A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 16

ACIM Text Reading for June 16

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

VI. The Bridge to the Real World

The search for the special relationship is the sign that you equate yourself with the ego and not with God. For the special relationship has value only to the ego. To the ego, unless a relationship has special value it has no meaning, for it perceives all love as special. Yet this cannot be natural, for it is unlike the relationship of God and His Son, and all relationships that are unlike this one must be unnatural. For God created love as He would have it be, and gave it as it is. Love has no meaning except as its Creator defined it by His Will. It is impossible to define it otherwise and understand it.

Love is freedom. To look for it by placing yourself in bondage is to separate yourself from it. For the Love of God, no longer seek for union in separation, nor for freedom in bondage! As you release, so will you be released. Forget this not, or love will be unable to find you and comfort you.

There is a way in which the Holy Spirit asks your help, if you would have His. The holy instant is His most helpful aid in protecting you from the attraction of guilt, the real lure in the special relationship. You do not recognise that this is its real appeal, for the ego has taught you that freedom lies in it. Yet the closer you look at the special relationship, the more apparent it becomes that it must foster guilt and therefore must imprison.

The special relationship is totally meaningless without a body. If you value it, you must also value the body. And what you value you will keep. The special relationship is a device for limiting your self to a body, and for limiting your perception of others to theirs. The Great Rays would establish the total lack of value of the special relationship, if they were seen. For in seeing them the body would disappear, because its value would be lost. And so your whole investment in seeing it would be withdrawn from it.

You see the world you value. On this side of the bridge you see the world of separate bodies, seeking to join each other in separate unions and to become one by losing. When two individuals seek to become one, they are trying to decrease their magnitude. Each would deny his power, for the separate union excludes the universe. Far more is left outside than would be taken in, for God is left without and nothing taken in. If one such union were made in perfect faith, the universe would enter into it. Yet the special relationship the ego seeks does not include even one whole individual. The ego wants but part of him, and sees only this part and nothing else.

Across the bridge it is so different! For a time the body is still seen, but not exclusively, as it is seen here. The little spark that holds the Great Rays within it is also visible, and this spark cannot be limited long to littleness. Once you have crossed the bridge, the value of the body is so diminished in your sight that you will see no need at all to magnify it. For you will realise that the only value the body has is to enable you to bring your brothers to the bridge with you, and to be released together there.

The bridge itself is nothing more than a transition in the perspective of reality. On this side, everything you see is grossly distorted and completely out of perspective. What is little and insignificant is magnified, and what is strong and powerful cut down to littleness. In the transition there is a period of confusion, in which a sense of actual disorientation may occur. But fear it not, for it means only that you have been willing to let go your hold on the distorted frame of reference that seemed to hold your world together. This frame of reference is built around the special relationship. Without this illusion there could be no meaning you would still seek here.

Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions. Delay will hurt you now more than before, only because you realise it is delay, and that escape from pain is really possible. Find hope and comfort, rather than despair, in this: You could not long find even the illusion of love in any special relationship here. For you are no longer wholly insane, and you would soon recognise the guilt of self-betrayal for what it is.

Nothing you seek to strengthen in the special relationship is really part of you. And you cannot keep part of the thought system that taught you it was real, and understand the Thought that knows what you are. You have allowed the Thought of your reality to enter your mind, and because you invited it, it will abide with you. Your love for it will not allow you to betray yourself, and you could not enter into a relationship where it could not go with you, for you would not want to be apart from it.

Be glad you have escaped the mockery of salvation the ego offered you, and look not back with longing on the travesty it made of your relationships. Now no one need suffer, for you have come too far to yield to the illusion of the beauty and holiness of guilt. Only the wholly insane could look on death and suffering, sickness and despair, and see it thus. What guilt has wrought is ugly, fearful and very dangerous. See no illusion of truth and beauty there. And be you thankful that there is a place where truth and beauty wait for you. Go on to meet them gladly, and learn how much awaits you for the simple willingness to give up nothing because it is nothing.

The new perspective you will gain from crossing over will be the understanding of where Heaven is. From this side, it seems to be outside and across the bridge. Yet as you cross to join it, it will join with you and become one with you. And you will think, in glad astonishment, that for all this you gave up nothing! The joy of Heaven, which has no limit, is increased with each light that returns to take its rightful place within it. Wait no longer, for the Love of God and you. And may the holy instant speed you on the way, as it will surely do if you but let it come to you.

The Holy Spirit asks only this little help of you: Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you. He needs only your willingness to share His perspective to give it to you completely. And your willingness need not be complete because His is perfect. It is His task to atone for your unwillingness by His perfect faith, and it is His faith you share with Him there. Out of your recognition of your unwillingness for your release, His perfect willingness is given you. Call upon Him, for Heaven is at His call. And let Him call on Heaven for you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 16

Lesson 149

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(137) When I am healed I am not healed alone.
(138) Heaven is the decision I must make.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #392: Reading the following passage in the text of A Course in Miracles brought up a question I’ve had for some time now: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions” (T.16.VI.8:1,2,3,4,5).

Some three years ago, I was doing selected workbook lessons and had reached a state of mind quite different from my “normal” functioning in the world. I was experiencing myself as at one with everyone and everything and aware that the mind is only one. This lasted for quite a while. But it was followed by a period of most intense and vicious ego attacks and I felt completely out of control – seemingly unable to prevent my ego from hurting me in all kinds of ways – sickness, finances, inner state of turmoil, attacking others, attraction to death, etc. I’m now doing the workbook again. How do I know whether I’m being gentle? And how do I sincerely attempt to do what Jesus asks in the workbook without holding back? My prior experience was that doing any one lesson could take me home if I did it wholeheartedly. How does one know that one’s head is far enough above the water to withstand the inevitable return of fear as long as one’s mind is split?

A: The “retaliation of the ego” is really the eruption of the part of your own mind that does not want to relinquish its independence, which would have happened had you continued to identify with oneness. If all at once in a flash you could accept oneness without reservation, chances are you would not be here in the world in the first place. So your response should be respect for the depth of your fear of oneness, but also gratitude for your willingness to return to the pure oneness of Love. Now it’s a matter of patience with yourself and trusting in the process that has begun. It is a gradual process of growing into what seems to be a new identity, but is really just accepting back your natural state of being, which you swore you would never do (T.19.IV.D.6). The strength of our resistance and our fear usually takes us by surprise. One of the most commonly asked questions is how to tell if one’s head is far enough above water to withstand the inevitable return of fear. There really is no way of knowing; but being too concerned about that can detract from our work of forgiving right now.

There is a way of acknowledging and respecting your fear without giving it power over you or denying it either. As you go along, a sense of balance should develop between these two extremes. You never want to force yourself to work with the lessons or to study the text. Any need you might feel to do the lessons perfectly and as quickly as possible always comes from your ego, as time is nothing to Jesus. He’s big on patience and gentleness, not perfection. Readiness does not mean mastery, he tells us (T.2.VII.7:8,9); and being too serious about the lessons just makes the error real. After all, we are undoing something that never happened, and “the outcome is as certain as God” (T.2.III.3:10).

The practice of forgiveness itself will gradually reduce your fear and sense of disorientation. Specifically, the more you practice seeing your interests as not different from anyone else’s — and feeling comfortable with that perception — the more you are undoing the underlying belief in separation, which is the source of all fear. Jesus clearly knows what is involved in this process, and he instructs and reassures us many times, such as in the passage you quoted.

*

Q #377: “Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you.” (T.16.VI.12:1) But how? How do I “enter with Him into a holy instant” — and then “let Him release me”? “He needs only your willingness…” (next sentence). I sincerely want to be released from this relationship because I find it ridiculous anyway — but to date I have been failing miserably and do not know how to get out of it.

A: You have found the key to answer your question in the next sentence: “He needs only your willingness…” However, the willingness required here is not the same as wanting to get out of a relationship because it is ridiculous or in some other way undesirable. It is the willingness to recognize and take responsibility for the ego’s use of the relationship, which is always to make the separation real and hold on to guilt.

Any relationship that attracts you, whether you characterize it as special love or special hate, holds a multitude of thoughts, beliefs, and judgments about yourself and the other person, all based on the belief in separation, thus giving rise to guilt. You enter the holy instant with the Holy Spirit through the process of forgiveness. The first step in this process is to be willing to recognize all the beliefs and judgments you bring to the relationship, and then to question them in the light of the teachings of A Course in Miracles to whatever extent you understand them. This changes the purpose of the relationship from the ego’s goal to the Holy Spirit’s. If you are willing to have these beliefs and judgments transformed by the Holy Spirit, you will be released of them, and His perception will replace yours; thus you enter the Holy Instant. “Never approach the holy instant after you have tried to remove all fear and hatred from your mind. That is its function. Never attempt to overlook your guilt before you ask the Holy Spirit’s help. That is Hisfunction. Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven” (T.18.V.2:1,2,3,4,5). Your release is the release of guilt. The relationship will fall away when you no longer have any attraction to the beliefs, judgments and their ensuing guilt in the specific form that this relationship represents.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 15

ACIM Text Reading for June 15

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

V. The Choice for Completion

In looking at the special relationship, it is necessary first to realise that it involves a great amount of pain. Anxiety, despair, guilt and attack all enter into it, broken into by periods in which they seem to be gone. All these must be understood for what they are. Whatever form they take, they are always an attack on the self to make the other guilty. I have spoken of this before, but there are some aspects of what is really being attempted that have not been touched upon.

Very simply, the attempt to make guilty is always directed against God. For the ego would have you see Him, and Him alone, as guilty, leaving the Sonship open to attack and unprotected from it. The special love relationship is the ego’s chief weapon for keeping you from Heaven. It does not appear to be a weapon, but if you consider how you value it and why, you will realise what it must be.

The special love relationship is the ego’s most boasted gift, and one which has the most appeal to those unwilling to relinquish guilt. The ‘dynamics’ of the ego are clearest here, for counting on the attraction of this offering, the fantasies that centre around it are often quite overt. Here they are usually judged to be acceptable and even natural. No one considers it bizarre to love and hate together, and even those who believe that hate is sin merely feel guilty, but do not correct it. This is the ‘natural’ condition of the separation, and those who learn that it is not natural at all seem to be the unnatural ones. For this world is the opposite of Heaven, being made to be its opposite, and everything here takes a direction exactly opposite of what is true. In Heaven, where the meaning of love is known, love is the same as union. Here, where the illusion of love is accepted in love’s place, love is perceived as separation and exclusion.

It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego’s hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the renunciation of the Love of God, and the attempt to secure for the self the special-ness that He denied. It is essential to the preservation of the ego that you believe this special-ness is not hell, but Heaven. For the ego would never have you see that separation could only be loss, being the one condition in which Heaven could not be.

To everyone Heaven is completion. There can be no disagreement on this, because both the ego and the Holy Spirit accept it. They are, however, in complete disagreement on what completion is, and how it is accomplished. The Holy Spirit knows that completion lies first in union, and then in the extension of union. To the ego completion lies in triumph, and in the extension of the ‘victory’ even to the final triumph over God. In this it sees the ultimate freedom of the self, for nothing would remain to interfere with the ego. This is its idea of Heaven. And therefore union, which is a condition in which the ego cannot interfere, must be hell.

The special relationship is a strange and unnatural ego device for joining hell and Heaven, and making them indistinguishable. And the attempt to find the imagined ‘best’ of both worlds has merely led to fantasies of both, and to the inability to perceive either as it is. The special relationship is the triumph of this confusion. It is a kind of union from which union is excluded, and the basis for the attempt at union rests on exclusion. What better example could there be of the ego’s maxim, ‘Seek but do not find’?

Most curious of all is the concept of the self which the ego fosters in the special relationship. This ‘self’ seeks the relationship to make itself complete. Yet when it finds the special relationship in which it thinks it can accomplish this it gives itself away, and tries to ‘trade’ itself for the self of another. This is not union, for there is no increase and no extension. Each partner tries to sacrifice the self he does not want for one he thinks he would prefer. And he feels guilty for the ‘sin’ of taking, and of giving nothing of value in return. How much value can he place upon a self that he would give away to get a ‘better’ one?

The ‘better’ self the ego seeks is always one that is more special. And whoever seems to possess a special self is ‘loved’ for what can be taken from him. Where both partners see this special self in each other, the ego sees ‘a union made in Heaven’. For neither one will recognise that he has asked for hell, and so he will not interfere with the ego’s illusion of Heaven, which it offered him to interfere with Heaven. Yet if all illusions are of fear, and they can be of nothing else, the illusion of Heaven is nothing more than an ‘attractive’ form of fear, in which the guilt is buried deep and rises in the form of ‘love’.

The appeal of hell lies only in the terrible attraction of guilt, which the ego holds out to those who place their faith in littleness. The conviction of littleness lies in every special relationship, for only the deprived could value special-ness. The demand for special-ness, and the perception of the giving of special-ness as an act of love, would make love hateful. The real purpose of the special relationship, in strict accordance with the ego’s goals, is to destroy reality and substitute illusion. For the ego is itself an illusion, and only illusions can be the witnesses to its ‘reality’.

If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you want it? Let us not think of its fearful nature, nor of the guilt it must entail, nor of the sadness and the loneliness. For these are only attributes of the whole religion of separation, and of the total context in which it is thought to occur. The central theme in its litany to sacrifice is that God must die so you can live. And it is this theme that is acted out in the special relationship. Through the death of your self you think you can attack another self, and snatch it from the other to replace the self that you despise. And you despise it because you do not think it offers the special-ness that you demand. And hating it you have made it little and unworthy, because you are afraid of it.

How can you grant unlimited power to what you think you have attacked? So fearful has the truth become to you that unless it is weak and little, and unworthy of value, you would not dare to look upon it. You think it safer to endow the little self you made with power you wrested from truth, triumphing over it and leaving it helpless. See how exactly is this ritual enacted in the special relationship. An altar is erected in between two separate people, on which each seeks to kill his self, and on his body raise another self to take its power from his death. Over and over and over this ritual is enacted. And it is never completed, nor ever will be completed. The ritual of completion cannot complete, for life arises not from death, nor Heaven from hell.

Whenever any form of special relationship tempts you to seek for love in ritual, remember love is content, and not form of any kind. The special relationship is a ritual of form, aimed at raising the form to take the place of God at the expense of content. There is no meaning in the form, and there will never be. The special relationship must be recognised for what it is; a senseless ritual in which strength is extracted from the death of God, and invested in His killer as the sign that form has triumphed over content, and love has lost its meaning. Would you want this to be possible, even apart from its evident impossibility? If it were possible, you would have made yourself helpless. God is not angry. He merely could not let this happen. You cannot change His Mind. No rituals that you have set up in which the dance of death delights you can bring death to the eternal. Nor can your chosen substitute for the Wholeness of God have any influence at all upon it.

See in the special relationship nothing more than a meaningless attempt to raise other gods before Him, and by worshipping them to obscure their tininess and His greatness. In the name of your completion you do not want this. For every idol that you raise to place before Him stands before you, in place of what you are.

Salvation lies in the simple fact that illusions are not fearful because they are not true. They but seem to be fearful to the extent to which you fail to recognise them for what they are; and you will fail to do this to the extent to which you want them to be true. And to the same extent you are denying truth, and so are failing to make the simple choice between truth and illusion; God and fantasy. Remember this, and you will have no difficulty in perceiving the decision as just what it is, and nothing more.

The core of the separation illusion lies, simply in the fantasy of destruction of love’s meaning. And unless love’s meaning is restored to you, you cannot know yourself who share its meaning. Separation is only the decision not to know yourself. This whole thought system is a carefully contrived learning experience, designed to lead away from truth and into fantasy. Yet for every learning that would hurt you, God offers you correction and complete escape from all its consequences.

The decision whether or not to listen to this course and follow it is but the choice between truth and illusion. For here is truth, separated from illusion and not confused with it at all. How simple does this choice become when it is perceived as only what it is. For only fantasies make confusion in choosing possible, and they are totally unreal.

This year is thus the time to make the easiest decision that ever confronted you, and also the only one. You will cross the bridge into reality simply because you will recognise that God is on the other side, and nothing at all is here. It is impossible not to make the natural decision as this is realised.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 15

Lesson 148

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(135) If I defend myself I am attacked.
(136) Sickness is a defense against the truth.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #172: What is the end result from studying A Course in Miracles? Should I be able to make life go in the direction I want it? On page 448 of the Course it states:

I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I would experience, and I decide
upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

This is obviously not a new idea and many people have heard it but few if any have been able to realize it or make it work in their lives. Is there something these people as well as myself have been doing wrong?

A: Peace — and the release from all guilt — is the end result of studying the Course and applying its principles (M.28.3:4,5). Although an initial reading of many of the passages of the Course, including the one you quote, would appear to suggest that the Course’s purpose is to show us how to make our lives become what we want them to be, as you study the Course over time, it will become apparent that this is not its intention. In the above passage, the Course is speaking about the choice of feelings and experience only at the level of content, not form: will our experience be one of love or fear, peace or conflict, happiness or pain?

There are many passages that make this clear. Among the early workbook lessons are two that admonish us: “I do not perceive my own best interests” (W.pI.24) and “I do not know what anything is for” (W.pI.25). The Course is asking us to acknowledge that we are not in a position to make decisions about what will bring us happiness or joy or peace. That is up to our Guide, the Holy Spirit. “He does know all the facts; past, present and to come. He does know all the effects of His judgment on everyone and everything involved in any way” (M.10.4:8,9). And so, “Ask and He will answer. The responsibility is His, and He alone is fit to assume it. To do so is His function. To refer the questions to Him is yours. Would you want to be responsible for decisions about which you understand so little? Be glad you have a Teacher Who cannot make a mistake. His answers are always right. Would you say that of yours?” (M.29.2:7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14).

Even these line are open to misunderstanding and misinterpretation, for it is easy to conclude that they mean that the Holy Spirit will provide all that we need in our world to experience happiness here as we define it, which usually means having our needs met. But again, this is not the intent of the Course. Its focus is to bring about a change at the level of mind, so that we will become increasingly less affected by the things that happen or don’t happen around us and to us. A sen­tence in the text makes this clear: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7). The kind of change that the Course is attempting to bring about within each of us is a shift from judgment to forgiveness. For, as the Course reminds us, “those who have been forgiven have everything” T.3.V.6:3), not in a material sense, but in the sense that we remember that lack and loss of the love that is our natural inheritance is impossible. And we will look out on the world and see only peace, no matter what battles seem to be raging.


Q #173: What is thought and what is thinking?

A) There is no definition of thought or thinking in A Course in Miracles. We get some idea of what these terms mean from the way they are used. But it is important to keep in mind that Jesus is using the language generated by the Son in his separated state, which is illusory. These terms and concepts, therefore, are inherently limited. Jesus is consistent in the meaning of what he is teaching us, but not in his use of terms and words; so sometimes it is difficult to pin down a precise meaning for a specific term. The Course is not meant to be, nor is it presented as, a philosoph­ical or scholarly treatise, though there are profoundly rich and even provocative theoretical statements throughout.

When capitalized, Thought always refers to the content in God’s Mind; and when not capitalized, thought always refers to the content in the mind of the separated Son. Jesus sometimes uses the term idea to express the unlimited nature of our true reality: “…you recognize, however dimly, that God is an idea, and so your faith in Him is strengthened by sharing. What you find difficult to accept is the fact that, like your Father, you are an idea. And like Him, you can give yourself completely, wholly without loss and only with gain” (T.15.VI.4:4,5,6).

In the last chapter of the text, conceptual thinking is singled out as the main problem, reflecting the earlier statement that “consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Con­sciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego” (T.3.IV.2:1,2). In the last chapter, Jesus states that “salvation can be seen as nothing more than the escape from concepts. It does not concern itself with content of the mind, but with the simple statement that it thinks” (T.31.V.14.3,4).

We hope this is helpful in some way. We were not entirely sure of the direction your question was taking, so we chose to answer it in this way. There is no “text-book” answer, unfortunately.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading for June 14

ACIM Text Reading for June 14

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

V. The Choice for Completion

In looking at the special relationship, it is necessary first to realise that it involves a great amount of pain. Anxiety, despair, guilt and attack all enter into it, broken into by periods in which they seem to be gone. All these must be understood for what they are. Whatever form they take, they are always an attack on the self to make the other guilty. I have spoken of this before, but there are some aspects of what is really being attempted that have not been touched upon.

Very simply, the attempt to make guilty is always directed against God. For the ego would have you see Him, and Him alone, as guilty, leaving the Sonship open to attack and unprotected from it. The special love relationship is the ego’s chief weapon for keeping you from Heaven. It does not appear to be a weapon, but if you consider how you value it and why, you will realise what it must be.

The special love relationship is the ego’s most boasted gift, and one which has the most appeal to those unwilling to relinquish guilt. The ‘dynamics’ of the ego are clearest here, for counting on the attraction of this offering, the fantasies that centre around it are often quite overt. Here they are usually judged to be acceptable and even natural. No one considers it bizarre to love and hate together, and even those who believe that hate is sin merely feel guilty, but do not correct it. This is the ‘natural’ condition of the separation, and those who learn that it is not natural at all seem to be the unnatural ones. For this world is the opposite of Heaven, being made to be its opposite, and everything here takes a direction exactly opposite of what is true. In Heaven, where the meaning of love is known, love is the same as union. Here, where the illusion of love is accepted in love’s place, love is perceived as separation and exclusion.

It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego’s hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the renunciation of the Love of God, and the attempt to secure for the self the special-ness that He denied. It is essential to the preservation of the ego that you believe this special-ness is not hell, but Heaven. For the ego would never have you see that separation could only be loss, being the one condition in which Heaven could not be.

To everyone Heaven is completion. There can be no disagreement on this, because both the ego and the Holy Spirit accept it. They are, however, in complete disagreement on what completion is, and how it is accomplished. The Holy Spirit knows that completion lies first in union, and then in the extension of union. To the ego completion lies in triumph, and in the extension of the ‘victory’ even to the final triumph over God. In this it sees the ultimate freedom of the self, for nothing would remain to interfere with the ego. This is its idea of Heaven. And therefore union, which is a condition in which the ego cannot interfere, must be hell.

The special relationship is a strange and unnatural ego device for joining hell and Heaven, and making them indistinguishable. And the attempt to find the imagined ‘best’ of both worlds has merely led to fantasies of both, and to the inability to perceive either as it is. The special relationship is the triumph of this confusion. It is a kind of union from which union is excluded, and the basis for the attempt at union rests on exclusion. What better example could there be of the ego’s maxim, ‘Seek but do not find’?

Most curious of all is the concept of the self which the ego fosters in the special relationship. This ‘self’ seeks the relationship to make itself complete. Yet when it finds the special relationship in which it thinks it can accomplish this it gives itself away, and tries to ‘trade’ itself for the self of another. This is not union, for there is no increase and no extension. Each partner tries to sacrifice the self he does not want for one he thinks he would prefer. And he feels guilty for the ‘sin’ of taking, and of giving nothing of value in return. How much value can he place upon a self that he would give away to get a ‘better’ one?

The ‘better’ self the ego seeks is always one that is more special. And whoever seems to possess a special self is ‘loved’ for what can be taken from him. Where both partners see this special self in each other, the ego sees ‘a union made in Heaven’. For neither one will recognise that he has asked for hell, and so he will not interfere with the ego’s illusion of Heaven, which it offered him to interfere with Heaven. Yet if all illusions are of fear, and they can be of nothing else, the illusion of Heaven is nothing more than an ‘attractive’ form of fear, in which the guilt is buried deep and rises in the form of ‘love’.

The appeal of hell lies only in the terrible attraction of guilt, which the ego holds out to those who place their faith in littleness. The conviction of littleness lies in every special relationship, for only the deprived could value special-ness. The demand for special-ness, and the perception of the giving of special-ness as an act of love, would make love hateful. The real purpose of the special relationship, in strict accordance with the ego’s goals, is to destroy reality and substitute illusion. For the ego is itself an illusion, and only illusions can be the witnesses to its ‘reality’.

If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you want it? Let us not think of its fearful nature, nor of the guilt it must entail, nor of the sadness and the loneliness. For these are only attributes of the whole religion of separation, and of the total context in which it is thought to occur. The central theme in its litany to sacrifice is that God must die so you can live. And it is this theme that is acted out in the special relationship. Through the death of your self you think you can attack another self, and snatch it from the other to replace the self that you despise. And you despise it because you do not think it offers the special-ness that you demand. And hating it you have made it little and unworthy, because you are afraid of it.

How can you grant unlimited power to what you think you have attacked? So fearful has the truth become to you that unless it is weak and little, and unworthy of value, you would not dare to look upon it. You think it safer to endow the little self you made with power you wrested from truth, triumphing over it and leaving it helpless. See how exactly is this ritual enacted in the special relationship. An altar is erected in between two separate people, on which each seeks to kill his self, and on his body raise another self to take its power from his death. Over and over and over this ritual is enacted. And it is never completed, nor ever will be completed. The ritual of completion cannot complete, for life arises not from death, nor Heaven from hell.

Whenever any form of special relationship tempts you to seek for love in ritual, remember love is content, and not form of any kind. The special relationship is a ritual of form, aimed at raising the form to take the place of God at the expense of content. There is no meaning in the form, and there will never be. The special relationship must be recognised for what it is; a senseless ritual in which strength is extracted from the death of God, and invested in His killer as the sign that form has triumphed over content, and love has lost its meaning. Would you want this to be possible, even apart from its evident impossibility? If it were possible, you would have made yourself helpless. God is not angry. He merely could not let this happen. You cannot change His Mind. No rituals that you have set up in which the dance of death delights you can bring death to the eternal. Nor can your chosen substitute for the Wholeness of God have any influence at all upon it.

See in the special relationship nothing more than a meaningless attempt to raise other gods before Him, and by worshipping them to obscure their tininess and His greatness. In the name of your completion you do not want this. For every idol that you raise to place before Him stands before you, in place of what you are.

Salvation lies in the simple fact that illusions are not fearful because they are not true. They but seem to be fearful to the extent to which you fail to recognise them for what they are; and you will fail to do this to the extent to which you want them to be true. And to the same extent you are denying truth, and so are failing to make the simple choice between truth and illusion; God and fantasy. Remember this, and you will have no difficulty in perceiving the decision as just what it is, and nothing more.

The core of the separation illusion lies, simply in the fantasy of destruction of love’s meaning. And unless love’s meaning is restored to you, you cannot know yourself who share its meaning. Separation is only the decision not to know yourself. This whole thought system is a carefully contrived learning experience, designed to lead away from truth and into fantasy. Yet for every learning that would hurt you, God offers you correction and complete escape from all its consequences.

The decision whether or not to listen to this course and follow it is but the choice between truth and illusion. For here is truth, separated from illusion and not confused with it at all. How simple does this choice become when it is perceived as only what it is. For only fantasies make confusion in choosing possible, and they are totally unreal.

This year is thus the time to make the easiest decision that ever confronted you, and also the only one. You will cross the bridge into reality simply because you will recognise that God is on the other side, and nothing at all is here. It is impossible not to make the natural decision as this is realised.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 14

Lesson 147

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(133) I will not value what is valueless.
(134) Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #137: I would like to understand the following quote from the Text, T.16.IV.9:6 “In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and only this, there is God completed and His Son with Him.” How do I accept completion? I know that the ego level seeks special relationships. I also know that the preface says we are already “complete, safe, loved and loving.” So how do I distinguish the ego’s search for completion from the completion referred to in the above quote?

 A: The key to answering your question is to include the preceding sentence: “In the Name of God, be wholly willing to abandon all illusions. In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and only this, there is God completed, and His Son with Him” (T.16.IV.9:5,6). The first sentence speaks of “illusions,” which contrasts with the “completion” of the second sentence. Briefly stated, the way to completion is by undoing all illusions. It may be helpful to review the basic ego set up: We believe we have separated from God. Consumed with guilt for this “sin,” we feel terribly lonely and empty. The ego tells us we can fill the void left by the separation by having all kinds of relationships — with our “selves,” other people, events, things, even our thoughts. In other words, we use all illusions in the dream, seeking to find in them a substitute for our truth. This vast array of substitutes is the ego’s definition of completion. The problem is the substitutes do not work. That does not stop the ego, however. It insists that if only we find the right combination of perfect substitutes we will find happiness and completion in the dream, thereby succeeding in making a perfect replacement for God and Heaven. When the plan still does not work, the ego tells us keep looking, try again, never mentioning that the real deal is “seek but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5).

The pursuit then is endless, which fulfills the ego’s purpose of keeping us hopelessly locked in the illusions of the world. This is the driving force behind every special relationship. We use others to meet our needs, and fill the void left by the seeming separation. In other words, seeking completion in illusory substitutions — what the Course calls idols: “All idols of this world were made to keep the truth within from being known to you, and to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find what is outside yourself to be complete and happy” (T.29.VII.6:1).

The ego seeks for completion in the external, while the completion the Holy Spirit is leading us to is internal. When we have become sufficiently disillusioned with the world’s offerings and the ego’s claims, we suspect that there must be another way. We can then look in the right direction (the mind) for our real completion, and begin to let go of our investment in the illusions. If we are dedicated to the process of letting go of all the useless substitutes, we begin to identify less and less with lies of the ego. This is accomplished through the training program the Course offers, which is to remember that we are either experiencing peace or conflict, and that the cause of our experience is nothing external. Rather, it is a choice made in the mind. As peace becomes more appealing than conflict, we will more frequently choose it, until eventually we will choose nothing else, and identify fully with the part of our minds that remembers our truth. When this happens, we “accept completion.” In that moment, all of our relationships will be “blessed” by this awareness, and we will have joined fully with our truth, which is everyone’s truth. God is not literally “completed” in this, since obviously He cannot be incomplete. This is the Course’s way of saying He will be remembered, and in this sense, brought into our completeness. The important thing is that this requires truly wanting nothing else, and abandoning allillusions. As long as there is one illusion we would interpose between ourselves and our truth we will not know our completion, because by clinging to the illusion we are actively denying the truth about ourselves. Since we do in fact spend great energy in pursuit of our idols, we do well not to judge ourselves for this mistake, but also to keep in mind: “It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him”(T.29.VII.6:2,3).


Q #138: If it is inevitable that we will wake up, or at least remember our true Identity, then behaviorally would it be logical to do whatever one feels is most peaceful in the world? And so in many ways it doesn’t really matter what others do or say. In fact, A Course in Miracles itself is quite irrelevant, if the waking process is inevitable. I mean isn’t it just a matter of hanging around doing what one likes doing best and not being naive to the fact that the ego will jabber on nonsense regardless of our seemingly worldly activities?

A: While “the outcome is as certain as God” (T.2.III.3:10) and “the acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time” (T.2.III.3:1) — simply because we could never really separate ourselves from God — we are still making a deliberate choice right now to remain asleep in our dream of time. And for all of us, the pain of the thought of separation behind the dream will eventually become so intolerable that we will all at some point want to make a different choice, the choice to awaken (T.2.III.3). So the only question any of us needs to ask ourselves now is, how long do I want to remain in pain, asleep in time? If we do not want to be conscious of and accept responsibility for our choice to see ourselves as separate, Jesus tells us we can continue to temporize and procrastinate for a time period at least as long as the time across which the separation has already occurred, that is, “millions of years”! (T.2.VIII.2:5).

Granted, all of this is illusory, and, from Jesus’ perspective outside of time, it matters little: “Nothing is ever lost but time, which in the end is meaningless. For it is but a little hindrance to eternity, quite meaningless to the real Teacher of the world”(T.26.V.2:1,2). But Jesus also recognizes that this is not our experience here in time: “Yet since you do believe in it [time], why should you waste it going nowhere, when it can be used to reach a goal as high as learning can achieve?…it is hard indeed to wander off, alone and miserable, down a road that leads to nothing and that has no purpose” (T.26.V.2:3,6).

So we have a choice about how we want to use time and how long we want to remain in the experience of time. Yes, in the end, it won’t matter, for we will have to remember who we really are — that has never really changed. But while we still believe all of this is real, Jesus in his Course is telling us that the length of our time in time can be “greatly shortened by miracles, the device for shortening but not abolishing time” (T.2.VIII.2:6). But this means, if the Course is our path, that our relationships with our brothers are of central importance, for it is upon others that each of us has projected all the guilt and responsibility for the pain of separation that we don’t want to see within ourselves. And so, as students of the Course, we will care what others do or say, not because we want to change them, but because our reactions to them can direct us to the unhealed places within our own mind. To avoid looking at our reactions to others, dismissing them as irrelevant to our waking process, would be to engage in denial, which is just another way of saying we are refusing to accept responsibility for our own decision to be separate. In the end, we will all see this, but the choice we have now is whether we want to acknowledge any of these projections now.

As difficult as looking at our brother to see our own “secret sins and hidden hates” (T.31.VIII.9:2) may seem to be, Jesus wants us to understand that not looking leads to even greater pain, for there is no hope for healing then. And so he encourages us, reminding us that this is a path we take with our brother: “Think not the way to Heaven’s gate is difficult at all. Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding your brother’s hand and keeping step to Heaven’s song, is difficult to do” (T.26.V.2:4,5; italics added).

certain as god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 13

ACIM Text Reading for June 13
Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

IV. The Illusion and the Reality of Love

Be not afraid to look upon the special hate relationship, for freedom lies in looking at it. It would be impossible not to know the meaning of love, except for this. For the special love relationship, in which the meaning of love is hidden, is undertaken solely to offset the hate, but not to let it go. Your salvation will rise clearly before your open eyes as you look on this. You cannot limit hate. The special love relationship will not offset it, but will merely drive it underground and out of sight. It is essential to bring it into sight, and to make no attempt to hide it. For it is the attempt to balance hate with love that makes love meaningless to you. The extent of the split that lies in this you do not realise. And until you do the split will remain unrecognised, and therefore unhealed.

The symbols of hate against the symbols of love play out a conflict that does not exist. For symbols stand for something else, and the symbol of love is without meaning if love is everything. You will go through this last undoing quite unharmed, and will at last emerge as yourself. This is the last step in the readiness for God. Be not unwilling now; you are too near, and you will cross the bridge in perfect safety, translated quietly from war to peace. For the illusion of love will never satisfy; but its reality, which awaits you on the other side, will give you everything.

The special love relationship is an attempt to limit the destructive effects of hate by finding a haven in the storm of guilt. It makes no attempt to rise above the storm, into the sunlight. On the contrary, it emphasises the guilt outside the haven by attempting to build barricades against it, and keep within them. The special love relationship is not perceived as a value in itself, but as a place of safety from which hatred is split off and kept apart. The special love partner is acceptable only as long as he serves this purpose. Hatred can enter, and indeed is welcome in some aspects of the relationship, but it is still held together by the illusion of love. If the illusion goes, the relationship is broken or becomes unsatisfying on the grounds of disillusionment.

Love is not an illusion. It is a fact. Where disillusionment is possible, there was not love but hate. For hate is an illusion, and what can change was never love. It is sure that those who select certain ones as partners in any aspect of living, and use them for any purpose which they would not share with others, are trying to live with guilt rather than die of it. This is the choice they see. And love, to them, is only an escape from death. They seek it desperately, but not in the peace in which it would gladly come quietly to them. And when they find the fear of death is still upon them, the love relationship loses the illusion that it is what it is not. When the barricades against it are broken, fear rushes in and hatred triumphs.

There are no triumphs of love. Only hate is at all concerned with the ‘triumph of love’. The illusion of love can triumph over the illusion of hate, but always at the price of making both illusions. As long as the illusion of hatred lasts, so long will love be an illusion to you. And then the only choice remaining possible is which illusion you prefer. There is no conflict in the choice between truth and illusion. Seen in these terms, no-one would hesitate. But conflict enters the instant the choice seems to be one between illusions, but this choice does not matter. Where one choice is as dangerous as the other, the decision must be one of despair.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another must fail. If you seek love outside yourself you can be certain that you perceive hatred within, and are afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but only from its reality.

Recognise this, for it is true, and truth must be recognised if it is to be distinguished from illusion: The special love relationship is an attempt to bring love into separation. And, as such, it is nothing more than an attempt to bring love into fear, and make it real in fear. In fundamental violation of love’s one condition, the special love relationship would accomplish the impossible. How but in illusion could this be done? It is essential that we look very closely at exactly what it is you think you can do to solve the dilemma which seems very real to you, but which does not exist. You have come close to truth, and only this stands between you and the bridge that leads you into it.

Heaven waits silently, and your creations are holding out their hands to help you cross and welcome them. For it is they you seek. You seek but for your own completion, and it is they who render you complete. The special love relationship is but a shabby substitute for what makes you whole in truth, not in illusion. Your relationship with them is without guilt, and this enables you to look on all your brothers with gratitude, because your creations were created in union with them. Acceptance of your creations is the acceptance of the oneness of creation, without which you could never be complete. No specialness can offer you what God has given, and what you are joined with Him in giving.

Across the bridge is your completion, for you will be wholly in God, willing for nothing special, but only to be wholly like to Him, completing Him by your completion. Fear not to cross to the abode of peace and perfect holiness. Only there is the completion of God and of His Son established forever. Seek not for this in the bleak world of illusion, where nothing is certain and where everything fails to satisfy. In the Name of God, be wholly willing to abandon all illusions. In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and only this, there is God completed, and His Son with Him.

The bridge that leads to union in yourself must lead to knowledge, for it was built with God beside you, and will lead you straight to Him where your completion rests, wholly compatible with His. Every illusion you accept into your mind by judging it to be attainable removes your own sense of completion, and thus denies the Wholeness of your Father. Every fantasy, be it of love or hate, deprives you of knowledge for fantasies are the veil behind which truth is hidden. To lift the veil that seems so dark and heavy, it is only needful to value truth beyond all fantasy, and to be entirely unwilling to settle for illusion in place of truth.

Would you not go through fear to love? For such the journey seems to be. Love calls, but hate would have you stay. Hear not the call of hate, and see no fantasies. For your completion lies in truth, and nowhere else. See in the call of hate, and in every fantasy that rises to delay you, but the call for help that rises ceaselessly from you to your Creator. Would He not answer you whose completion is His? He loves you, wholly without illusion, as you must love. For love is wholly without illusion, and therefore wholly without fear. Whom God remembers must be whole. And God has never forgotten what makes Him whole. In your completion lie the memory of His Wholeness and His gratitude to you for His completion. In His link with you lie both His inability to forget and your ability to remember. In Him are joined your willingness to love and all the Love of God, Who forgot you not.

Your Father can no more forget the truth in you than you can fail to remember it. The Holy Spirit is the bridge to Him, made from your willingness to unite with Him and created by His joy in union with you. The journey that seemed endless is almost complete, for what is endless is very near. You have almost recognised it. Turn with me firmly away from all illusions now, and let nothing stand in the way of truth. We will take the last useless journey away from truth together, and then together we go straight to God, in joyous answer to His call for His completion.

If special relationships of any kind would hinder God’s completion, can they have any value to you? What would interfere with God must interfere with you. Only in time does interference in God’s completion seem to be possible. The bridge that He would carry you across lifts you from time into eternity. Waken from time, and answer fearlessly the call of Him Who gave eternity to you in your creation. On this side of the bridge to timelessness you understand nothing. But as you step lightly across it, upheld bytimelessness, you are directed straight to the Heart of God. At its centre, and only there, you are safe forever, because you are complete forever. There is no veil the Love of God in us together cannot lift. The way to truth is open. Follow it with me.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 13

Lesson 146

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(131) No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.
(132) I loose the world from all I thought it was.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #314: A problem that will not go away, no matter what I do, concerns evil in people in my life: abuse, neglect, selfishness. I want to forgive, but in all honesty I cannot, because inside I am angry and I hate evil. Prayer gives me lots of affirmation of love. I want this love from people. I am also afraid of people. How can I pass through this wall that obstructs my peace?

A: This type of situation is usually difficult to work through. It requires a great deal of patience and gentleness with yourself. Forgiveness, of course, never means that you deny the “objective facts” — the abuse, neglect, and selfishness. It asks that you bring your anger and your feelings of victimization to the loving, non-judgmental presence within you, and just observe yourself holding others responsible for your lack of peace. If you try to forgive when you really don’t want to, you are fighting yourself and you will wind up feeling more guilty, which is not a kind thing to do to yourself. Holding on to blame and anger is not sinful and has no effect on Jesus’ love for you; it just prevents you from being peaceful and experiencing that love, as you already know. That is all.

When you are in touch with your feelings about evil, you might remember Jesus’ advice to us concerning the original choice to separate ourselves from God: “Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it” (T.18.I.6:7,8,9). If you hate evil, you are afraid of it and have forgotten that when love looks on it, it sees only a tiny, mad idea having no power to affect love in any way. That means that the truth about you has been untouched by what you have perceived as evil in others. The part of you that is afraid of that truth continues to see evil as real and powerful, and capable of making you weak.

Finally, a therapist or counselor might help you recover some of your inner strength and work with you on your fear of relationships. You could then look at the deeper issues and apply the principles of A Course in Miracles.


Q #315: I have a problem relating to other people. When I speak with them I feel like a stone and the situation seems to be so unrealistic. I feel embarrassed when people speak to me, or they want anything, or when I believe that I did something wrong. How can I deal with this situation? I perceive that it is my fear of Jesus and a defense against my inner guilt, but I feel so helpless.

A: Yes, your difficulty relating to other people is probably coming from your inner guilt. Guilt results in a poor self-image that makes you feel inferior to others and afraid of them. Just keep working on your lessons and ask for help in releasing your guilt. Be gentle with yourself and be confident that there is a loving, healing presence within you that sees beyond your guilt and fear. Manage your anxiety as best you can. Then, as you feel better about yourself, the anxiety will gradually disappear.

You might also consider getting help from a professional counseling service. They often have effective ways of helping you with your self-esteem and self-image.

I Have Nothing Else

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 12

ACIM Text Reading for June 12

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

III. The Reward of Teaching

We have already learned that everyone teaches, and teaches all the time. You may have taught well, and yet you may not have learned how to accept the comfort of your teaching. If you will consider what you have taught, and how alien it is to what you thought you knew, you will be compelled to realise that your Teacher came from beyond your thought system. Therefore He could look upon it fairly, and perceive it was untrue. He must have done so from the basis of a very different thought system, and one with nothing in common with yours. For certainly what He has taught, and what you have taught through Him, have nothing in common with what you taught before He came. And the results have been to bring peace where there was pain, and suffering has disappeared to be replaced by joy.

You may have taught freedom, but you have not learned how to be free. I said earlier, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them, and they shall know themselves’. For it is certain that you judge yourself according to your teaching. The ego’s teaching produces immediate results, because its decisions are immediately accepted as your choice. And this acceptance means that you are willing to judge yourself accordingly. Cause and effect are very clear in the ego’s thought system, because all your learning has been directed toward establishing the relationship between them. And would you not have faith in what you have so diligently taught yourself to believe? Yet remember how much care you have exerted in choosing its witnesses, and in avoiding those which spoke for the cause of truth and its effects.

Does not the fact that you have not learned what you have taught show you that you do not perceive the Sonship as one? And does it not also show you that you do not regard yourself as one? For it is impossible to teach successfully wholly without conviction, and it is equally impossible that conviction be outside of you. You could never have taught freedom unless you did believe in it. And it must be that what you taught came from yourself. Yet this Self you clearly do not know, and do not recognise It even though. It functions. What functions must be there. And it is only if you deny what It has done that you could possibly deny Its presence.

This is a course in how to know yourself. You have taught what you are, but have not let what you are teach you. You have been very careful to avoid the obvious, and not to see the real cause and effect relationship that is perfectly apparent. Yet within you is everything you taught. What can it be that has not learned it? It must be this part that is really outside yourself, not by your own projection, but in truth. And it is this part that you have taken in that is not you. What you accept into your mind does not really change it. Illusions are but beliefs in what is not there. And the seeming conflict between truth and illusion can only be resolved by separating yourself from the illusion and not from truth.

Your teaching has already done this, for the Holy Spirit is part of you. Created by God, He left neither God nor His creation. He is both God and you, as you are God and Him together. For God’s Answer to the separation added more to you than you tried to take away. He protected both your creations and you together, keeping one with you what you would exclude. And they will take the place of what you took in to replace them. They are quite real, as part of the Self you do not know. They communicate to you through the Holy Spirit, and their power and gratitude to you for their creation they offer gladly to your teaching of yourself, who is their home. You who are host to God are also host to them. For nothing real has ever left the mind of its creator. And what is not real was never there.

You are not two selves in conflict. What is beyond God? If you who hold Him and whom He holds are the universe, all else must be outside, where nothing is. You have taught this, and from far off in the universe, yet not beyond yourself, the witnesses to your teaching have gathered to help you learn. Their gratitude has joined with yours and God’s to strengthen your faith in what you taught. For what you taught is true. Alone, you stand outside your teaching and apart from it. But with them you must learn that you but taught yourself, and learned from the conviction you shared with them.

This year you will begin to learn, and make learning commensurate with teaching. You have chosen this by your own willingness to teach. Though you seemed to suffer for it, the joy of teaching will yet be yours. For the joy of teaching is in the learner, who offers it to the teacher in gratitude, and shares it with him. As you learn, your gratitude to your Self, Who teaches you what He is, will grow and help you honour Him. And you will learn His power and strength and purity, and love Him as His Father does. His Kingdom has no limits and no end, and there is nothing in Him that is not perfect and eternal. All this is you, and nothing outside of this is you.

To your most holy Self all praise is due for what you are, and for what He is Who created you as you are. Sooner or later must everyone bridge the gap he imagines exists between his selves. Each one builds this bridge, which carries him across the gap as soon as he is willing to expend some little effort on behalf of bridging it. His little efforts are powerfully supplemented by the strength of Heaven, and by the united will of all who make Heaven what it is, being joined within it. And so the one who would cross over is literally transported there.

Your bridge is builded stronger than you think, and your foot is planted firmly on it. Have no fear that the attraction of those who stand on the other side and wait for you will not draw you safely across. For you will come where you would be, and where your Self awaits you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 12

Lesson 145

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(129) Beyond this world there is a world I want.
(130) It is impossible to see two worlds.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #312: I just finished a meditation on why I haven’t had an intimate relationship for so long. Most of the reasons that occurred to me were ego-based. The one I didn’t think was ego-based was that I’m just too lazy to put in all the effort it takes. I don’t know if this is an appropriate question to be asking, but I think about relationships a lot and I don’t seem to be able to help it. I know the Course says that special relationships are just a device to keep you away from the truth and I notice that the A Course in Miracles never addresses the issue of sex or sexuality directly, but I must ask for some guidance here. I have these desires and I don’t feel like they’re being met. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s wrong to have these feelings. I’m becoming very frustrated with my life and with this Course. Am I misinterpreting something? I think I must be missing something? Can you help?

A: Yes, it does sound like you’re doing some misinterpreting. By the way, you don’t say what the other thoughts were that came to you in your meditation about having an intimate relationship, but the one you mention still sounds ego-based — like someone’s mother making a judgment! Rest assured, Jesus or the Holy Spirit do not sound like our mothers’ nagging! And the truth is that fear is more likely the reason you’re not experiencing an intimate relationship, whatever answers you think you heard.

It’s true special relationships were made by the ego to distract us from the Holy Spirit’s answer — the Course refers to them as “the ego’s most boasted gift” (T.16.V.3:1) — for they hold out the hope that we can find in someone else the special love that God could never give us (T.16.V.4). But once we seem to find ourselves in the world of separation, the Course does not teach that special relationships are to be avoided or given up. On the contrary, they become the necessary classrooms in which we learn our forgiveness lessons. In Jesus’ own words, “I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them (T.17.IV.2:3).

So while the Course is telling us that our special relationships — and that would include ones involving sex and physical intimacy — won’t bring us the joy of Heaven, nowhere in the Course does Jesus say that those feelings are wrong or bad or sinful. And furthermore, through our participation in those relationships, we have the opportunity to heal the guilt in our minds that we have projected on to them. It could be that we feel victimized either by the special relationships we are in or have been in, or by the fact that we are not now in the ones we believe we want. In the end, the different forms are all the same, but along the way, our part is merely to be willing to be open to the relationships that are already a part of our lives. For each one, whether or not it involves physical intimacy, will offer us an opportunity to find the love that has always been ours, just buried and hidden beneath the guilt and sin in our own minds.

You may wish to ask then, not for a specific relationship, but for help in releasing the guilt and the fear that seem to be preventing you from experiencing love. You may be surprised at what opportunities show up in your life when you have that willingness, but don’t make the mistake of deciding and defining in advance what those opportunities should look like. Trust that we always find what we need to practice our forgiveness lessons, as we are ready to take our next steps.

You may find Ken Wapnick’s recent tape on “Form vs Content: Sex and Money” of value in thinking about your issues around relationships. You may also wish to take a look at Question #184 for a related discussion.


Q #313: I have just realized, with somewhat of a shock, that a series of events that happened in my life — loss of friends, my job, my home — about five years ago seems to be playing itself out again in the same way, under similar circumstances. Everything seems to be falling apart.

I don’t want to repeat this because what followed five years ago was the bleakest, loneliest, poverty-stricken period of my life. I feel like I’m the victim of some big reality con and there seems to be nothing I can do to stop it and I’m terrified. It seems that my ego is trying to protect itself by massively intensifying its attack in order to stop me from letting it go by creating bad circumstances in my life. Is there anything I can do to stop what is happening? A friend has suggested that the first time this happened, maybe I should have chosen to go in a particular life direction but didn’t and so now circumstances are repeating themselves so I can make the right choice this time. Maybe I’m getting carried away over nothing but if things do fall apart again and I can’t change them, it would be nice to have some inner peace with what is happening.

A: You do not say whether you are a student of A Course in Miracles, but your hunch as to what your ego may be up to suggests you have more than a passing knowledge of the Course’s principles. The Course itself says that “trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you” (T.31.VIII.3:1). But it is always and only ever talking about the content of our own perceptions of others, and the pain those judgments bring, and not the specific form of events as they seem to play out in our lives. And there is nothing in the Course that says you must repeat the cycle of pain and suffering until you get it right, as if there were some kind of karmic debt to be paid. This may be true within the ego thought system, but the whole purpose of the Course is to expose the insanity of the ego so we can make a choice for sanity against that thought system.

So what is to be done? What we all must learn to do is to make conscious our own inner decision to see ourselves as guilty sinners who deserve to be punished for all of our transgressions, beginning with our supposed attack on our Father Who only extends His Love to us. That we believe down deep that we have attacked love is true, but we need to bring that belief into our awareness so we can question its validity, as well as the suffering and pain we believe it calls for. For there is no inevitability to the events of our lives. And even more to the point, there is no inevitability to the interpretation we give to the events of our lives. In other words, we may feel victimized by what seems to be happening to us in our lives, but that interpretation of victimization is nothing but that — an interpretation. And if we’re willing to accept our role in giving that interpretation to external events, then we can join with Jesus and allow him to offer a different interpretation in which no one is guilty, including, and especially, ourselves.

So if you can begin to recognize that it is your ego that is fanning your fears about the future, based on a faulty premise about yourself, you can begin to question whether you want to continue to listen to that voice. For that voice never wishes any of us well (T.15.VII.4:3). But there is another Voice, once you dismiss the ego’s, that only ever wills your perfect happiness (W.pI.101).

Holy Encounter copy

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 9

ACIM Text Reading for June 9

Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant

XI. Christmas as the End of Sacrifice

Fear not to recognise the whole idea of sacrifice as solely of your making. And seek not safety by attempting to protect yourself from where it is not. Your brothers and your Father have become very fearful to you. And you would bargain with them for a few special relationships, in which you think you see some scraps of safety. Do not try longer to keep apart your thoughts and the Thought that has been given you. When they are brought together and perceived where they are, the choice between them is nothing more than a gentle awakening, and as simple as opening your eyes to daylight when you have no more need of sleep.

The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come. He comes demanding nothing. No sacrifice of any kind, of anyone, is asked by Him. In His Presence the whole idea of sacrifice loses all meaning. For He is Host to God. And you need but invite Him in Who is there already, by recognising that His Host is One, and no thought alien to His Oneness can abide with Him there. Love must be total to give Him welcome, for the Presence of holiness creates the holiness that surrounds it. No fear can touch the Host Who cradles God in the time of Christ, for the Host is as holy as the Perfect Innocence which He protects, and Whose power protects Him.

This Christmas give the Holy Spirit everything that would hurt you. Let yourself be healed completely that you may join with Him in healing, and let us celebrate our release together by releasing everyone with us. Leave nothing behind, for release is total, and when you have accepted it with me you will give it with me. All pain and sacrifice and littleness will disappear in our relationship, which is as innocent as our relationship with our Father, and as powerful. Pain will be brought to us and disappear in our presence, and without pain there can be no sacrifice. And without sacrifice there love must be.

You who believe that sacrifice is love must learn that sacrifice is separation from love. For sacrifice brings guilt as surely as love brings peace. Guilt is the condition of sacrifice, as peace is the condition for the awareness of your relationship with God. Through guilt you exclude your Father and your brothers from yourself. Through peace you invite them back, realising that they are where your invitation bids them be. What you exclude from yourself seems fearful, for you endow it with fear and try to cast it out, though it is part of you. Who can perceive part of himself as loathsome, and live within himself in peace? And who can try to resolve the ‘conflict’ of Heaven and hell in him by casting Heaven out and giving it the attributes of hell, without experiencing himself as incomplete and lonely?

As long as you perceive the body as your reality, so long will you perceive yourself as lonely and deprived. And so long will you also perceive yourself as a victim of sacrifice, justified in sacrificing others. For who could thrust Heaven and its Creator aside without a sense of sacrifice and loss? And who could suffer sacrifice and loss without attempting to restore himself? Yet how could you accomplish this yourself, when the basis of your attempts is the belief in the reality of the deprivation? Deprivation breeds attack, being the belief that attack is justified. And as long as you would retain the deprivation, attack becomes salvation and sacrifice becomes love.

So is it that, in all your seeking for love, you seek for sacrifice and find it. Yet you find not love. It is impossible to deny what love is and still recognise it. The meaning of love lies in what you have cast outside yourself, and it has no meaning apart from you. It is what you prefer to keep that has no meaning, while all that you would keep away holds all the meaning of the universe, and holds the universe together in its meaning. Unless the universe were joined in you it would be apart from God, and to be without Him is to be without meaning.

In the holy instant the condition of love is met, for minds are joined without the body’s interference, and where there is communication there is peace. The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication. And if you understand this lesson, you will realise that to sacrifice the body is to sacrifice nothing, and communication, which must be of the mind, cannot be sacrificed. Where, then, is sacrifice? The lesson I was born to teach, and still would teach to all my brothers, is that sacrifice is nowhere and love is everywhere. For communication embraces everything, and in the peace it re-establishes, love comes of itself.

Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy. Let us join in celebrating peace by demanding no sacrifice of anyone, for so you offer me the love I offer you. What can be more joyous than to perceive we are deprived of nothing? Such is the message of the time of Christ, which I give you that you may give it and return it to the Father, Who gave it to me. For in the time of Christ communication is restored, and He joins us in the celebration of His Son’s creation.

God offers thanks to the holy host who would receive Him, and lets Him enter and abide where He would be. And by your welcome does He welcome you into Himself, for what is contained in you who welcome Him is returned to Him. And we but celebrate His Wholeness as we welcome Him into ourselves. Those who receive the Father are one with Him, being host to Him Who created them. And by allowing Him to enter, the remembrance of the Father enters with Him, and with Him they remember the only relationship they ever had, and ever want to have.

This is the time in which a new year will soon be born from the time of Christ. I have perfect faith in you to do all that you would accomplish. Nothing will be lacking, and you will make complete and not destroy. Say, then, to your brother:

I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released, unless I want to use you to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom I choose your release, Because I recognise that we will be released together.

So will the year begin in joy and freedom. There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born, and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening. Make this year different by making it all the same. And let all your relationships be made holy for you. This is our will. Amen.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 9

Lesson 142

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(123) I thank my Father for His gifts to me.
(124) Let me remember I am one with God. 

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #231: My question pertains to the world we see as an illusion. Is it safe to say that if we find “enjoyment” here we must keep in mind it is still only an illusion, otherwise we become attached to it in a negative way? Does this sort of parallel what the scriptures say that we are not of this world but only in this world? This makes for a tug of war within us because when we seem to desire something, we ask: which part is doing the desiring? At that point, can we justify the desire by keeping in mind that it really does not matter because it is only illusion and then go on and enjoy? Is justify the wrong word? Are we on the right track with this reasoning?

A: Your reasoning is partially correct. Anything we desire in the world of form is only an illusion, but we should not dismiss our seeking or desiring it too quickly. Although A Course in Miracles does not ask that we relinquish enjoyment in the dream, it does ask that we recognize the real motives for our pursuit of pleasurable experiences. It tells us that we are seeking to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God with substitutes for His Love that never fully satisfy us. This is at the root of all our seeking in the dream. The Course uncovers our motives in the hopes that we will learn not to seek outside ourselves for what will never truly bring us happiness. As long as we make the mistake of believing that the cause of our “enjoyment” is something or someone external to ourselves, we will seek in vain, in keeping with the ego’s maxim: “Seek but do not find” (M.13.5:8). The Course tells us that the only enjoyment possible in the dream is a peaceful state of mind, and that is achieved only by the choice to join with the Holy Spirit in the mind, and accept His interpretation of every experience or relationship we have. That is not to say that we cannot enjoy a pleasurable experience in the world. The point is that if our mind is at peace, it does not matter whether we are enjoying a beautiful concert or are stuck in hot traffic — our peacefulness remains undisturbed. This is not the same as indulging our desires for pleasure by saying it is all an illusion and it doesn’t matter. If we were at the point in our spiritual journey where we truly believed that this is all an illusion, we would not need A Course in Miracles to help us see how real we think the world is, and, we would not be in pursuit of enjoyment in the world. Meanwhile, all the things in the world we do seek are important reminders of how attached we are to our identity as bodies and the ego thought system, which makes separation and the world very real. Both negative emotions (pain) as well as positive emotions (enjoyment) which are evoked by our experiences are our “proof” that the world is real. We are learning to be aware of how desperately we seek this.

The only part of our mind that desires anything, no matter how lofty it may seem to be, is the ego: “Appetites are ‘getting’ mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself. This is as true of body appetites as it is of the so-called ‘higher ego needs.’ Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind, which has become completely confused about what is really possible” (T.II.7:5, 6,7,8,9). The Course is a mind training process because we are so confused, have taught ourselves upside down thinking, and do not know what makes us happy: “You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:4,5,6). This does not mean we should feel guilty for seeking enjoyment. It is no different than any of the other things we do to take care of ourselves in the illusion. While we still believe in our identity as bodies, we will find “enjoyment” in the world. Though the ego uses this to support the belief that the separation is real, the Holy Spirit can use it as part of His classroom to teach us that there is no satisfaction in this world, and that our only true happiness is found in God. We may also have experiences that are truly joyful because they reflect a choice in the mind to identify with the Holy Spirit. As we continue to practice what the Course teaches, we will eventually have truly joyful experiences that reflect the choice made in the mind to identify with the Holy Spirit. This joy comes from the content in the mind rather than anything in form.


Q #232: The ego thought system teaches us that being a mother or a father is something noble. In other words, having children is “good.” But as far as I understand, A Course in Miracles has something else to say about this. Is this just another illusion? Maybe something “wrong,” because it makes us believe in this world and reinforces our bonds to this reality?

A: Jesus does not say that there is something “wrong” in being a parent; nor does he say it is something noble. Any role in this world is part of the ego’s plan to make its world the only reality. So in that sense, parenting is part of the whole illusion that there is life outside Heaven. Any role in this world is a substitute for our true role as God’s one Son, Christ. Parenting in particular, though, may have more guilt associated with it — even though there really are no degrees of guilt — because of its connection with producing “life,” i.e., bringing babies into the world. Within the ego thought system, this is a way of competing with God, a way of saying that we are just as powerful as He is, and therefore that He no longer is needed. The ego now can produce life, and end it. Many religions bless this process by describing it as co-creation, i.e., human parents are the co- creators, with God, of life. In A Course in Miracles, however, life is the pure abstract oneness of Love in Heaven. All bodily life and parenting is therefore illusory. Given the Holy Spirit’s purpose, though, the role of parent can become a classroom in which a person can learn how to be a loving, kind, compassionate authority figure while carrying out the responsibilities of a parent appropriately and conscientiously. The lesson of shared interests can be very effectively learned, while the parent keeps the boundaries between parent and child clearly defined. (Questions #179 and #202 might be of interest to you.)


health is inner peace

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 8

ACIM Text Reading for June 8

Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant

X. The Time of Rebirth

It is in your power, in time, to delay the perfect union of the Father and the Son. For in this world, the attraction of guilt does stand between them. Neither time nor season means anything in eternity. But here it is the Holy Spirit’s function to use them both, though not as the ego uses them. This is the season when you would celebrate my birth into the world. Yet you know not how to do it. Let the Holy Spirit teach you, and let me celebrate your birth through Him. The only gift I can accept of you is the gift I gave to you. Release me as I choose your own release. The time of Christ we celebrate together, for it has no meaning if we are apart.

The holy instant is truly the time of Christ. For in this liberating instant no guilt is laid upon the Son of God, and his unlimited power is thus restored to him. What other gift can you offer me, when only this I choose to offer you? And to see me is to see me in everyone, and offer everyone the gift you offer me. I am as incapable of receiving sacrifice as God is, and every sacrifice you ask of yourself you ask of me. Learn now that sacrifice of any kind is nothing but a limitation imposed on giving. And by this limitation you have limited acceptance of the gift I offer you.

We who are one cannot give separately. When you are willing to accept our relationship as real, guilt will hold no attraction for you. For in our union you will accept all of our brothers. The gift of union is the only gift that I was born to give. Give it to me, that you may have it. The time of Christ is the time appointed for the gift of freedom, offered to everyone. And by your acceptance of it, you offer it to everyone.

It is in your power to make this season holy, for it is in your power to make the time of Christ be now. It is possible to do this all at once because there is but one shift in perception that is necessary, for you made but one mistake. It seems like many, but it is all the same. For though the ego takes many forms, it is always the same idea. What is not love is always fear, and nothing else.

It is not necessary to follow fear through all the circuitous routes by which it burrows underground and hides in darkness, to emerge in forms quite different from what it is. Yet it is necessary to examine each one as long as you would retain the principle that governs all of them. When you are willing to regard them, not as separate, but as different manifestations of the same idea, and one you do not want, they go together. The idea is simply this: you believe it is possible to be host to the ego or hostage to God. This is the choice you think you have, and the decision you believe that you must make. You see no other alternatives, for you cannot accept the fact that sacrifice gets nothing. Sacrifice is so essential to your thought system that salvation apart from sacrifice means nothing to you. Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this that you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish. Guilt cannot last when the idea of sacrifice has been removed. For if there is sacrifice, someone must pay and someone must get. And the only question that remains is how much is the price, and for getting what.

As host to the ego, you believe that you can give all your guilt away whenever you want, and thereby purchase peace. And the payment does not seem to be yours. While it is obvious that the ego does demand payment it never seems to be demanding it of you. You are unwilling to recognise that the ego, which you invited, is treacherous only to those who think they are its host. The ego will never let you perceive this, since this recognition would make it homeless. For when the recognition dawns clearly, you will not be deceived by any form the ego takes to protect itself from your sight. Each form will be recognised as but a cover for the one idea that hides behind them all; that love demands sacrifice, and is therefore inseparable from attack and fear. And that guilt is the price of love, which must be paid by fear.

How fearful, then, has God become to you, and how great a sacrifice do you believe His Love demands! For total love would demand total sacrifice. And so the ego seems to demand less of you. than God, and of the two is judged as the lesser of two evils, one to be feared a little, perhaps, but the other to be destroyed. For you see love as destructive, and your only question is who is to be destroyed, you or another? You seek to answer this question in your special relationships, in which you seem to be both destroyer and destroyed in part, but able to be neither completely. And this you think saves you from God, Whose total Love would completely destroy you.

You think that everyone outside yourself demands your sacrifice, but you do not see that only you demand sacrifice, and only of yourself. Yet the demand of sacrifice is so savage and so fearful that you cannot accept it where it is. The real price of not accepting this has been so great that you have given God away rather than look at it. For if God would demand total sacrifice of you, it seems safer to project Him outward and away from you, and not be host to Him. To Him you ascribed the ego’s treachery, inviting it to take His place to protect you from Him. And you do not recognise that it is what you invited in that would destroy you, and does demand total sacrifice of you. No partial sacrifice will appease this savage guest, for it is an invader who but seems to offer kindness, but always to make the sacrifice complete.

You will not succeed in being partial hostage to the ego, for it keeps no bargains and would leave you nothing. Nor can you be partial host to it. You must choose between total freedom and total bondage, for there are no alternatives but these. You have tried many compromises in the attempt to avoid recognising the one decision you must make. And yet it is the recognition of the decision, just as it is, that makes the decision so easy. Salvation is simple, being of God, and therefore very easy to understand. Do not try to project it from you and see it outside yourself. In you are both the question and the answer; the demand for sacrifice and the peace of God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 8

Lesson 141

REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.


Lesson 141

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(121) Forgiveness is the key to happiness.

(122) Forgiveness offers everything I want.

 

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #229: I am confused by a passage from Lesson #140 in A Course in Miracles: “Only salvation can be said to cure.” It says, “So do we lay aside our amulets, our charms and medicines …We will be still and listen for the Voice of healing, Which will cure all ills as one.…” I believe that we create our own sickness. I have had hypothyroidism for the past 24 years or so and have also been diagnosed with depression. I do believe in the absolute faith in God and His truth. Do I stop taking my medications? I realize that I have an underlying fear of the consequences of untreated hypothyroidism. Can my faith remove these conditions? Is the healing referred to here physical, spiritual, or otherwise. I feel very lost about this.

A: Please do not stop taking your medications. That is not the goal of this workbook lesson. Jesus would never ask us to give up anything in the world of form that still seems to help us feel better, that controls our bodily symptoms and reduces our pain and fear (T.2.IV.4:5,6,7,8,9,10; 5). He is only trying to get us to look beyond our tacit assumptions about sickness and cures.

Specifically, the purpose of this lesson is to help us begin to understand that it is not the body that is sick or that should be our focus for healing. Rather it is the mind that believes that separation and guilt are real. That is the idea behind the lines: “Atonement does not heal the sick, for that is not a cure. It takes away the guilt that makes the sickness possible. And that is cure indeed” (W.pI.140.4:4,5,6). And later in the lesson, “Let us not try today to seek to cure what cannot suffer sickness [the body]. Healing must be sought but where it is [in the mind], and then applied to what is sick [the mind], so that it [the mind] can be cured” (W.pI.140.7:1,2). This idea is asserted with great clarity in the text: “The body needs no healing. But the mind that thinks it is a body is sick indeed!” (T.25.in.3:1,2).

This lesson is not attempting to bring about any change in our behavior, such as having us stop our medications. Rather, we are being invited to open up to a different way of thinking about what is sick and why. And once we begin to accept that illness is in the mind and comes from our unconscious but illusory belief in guilt — guilt over thinking we have separated ourselves from and attacked our Source — we can then begin to understand that healing simply involves a process of undoing these beliefs — what the Course refers to as forgiveness. So keep taking your medications, but at the same time, invite Jesus in to look with you at the guilt in your mind that has led you to believe not only that you are a body, but that you deserve to suffer. Jesus accepts neither of those beliefs about you, but you still do, and so you need his guidance.

As a point of clarification, the Course’s meaning of faith is different from traditional uses, such as in faith healing. God does not heal our sickness — the Course is not asking us to place our faith in Him to take away all our illness and pain. By faith, the Course is referring to the allegiance we give to either the ego or the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking, with the inevitable outcomes that follow putting our faith in each teacher (T.13.IX.2:3,4,5,6). Place your faith in the ego’s interpretation of yourself and others and you are guaranteeing yourself guilt, fear, pain, illness and death. Place your faith in the Holy Spirit’s interpretation and you are guaranteeing yourself peace, love, joy and life. And to place your faith in the Holy Spirit means that you are willing to replace judgment and attack upon yourself and others with the healing balm of forgiveness.

For related discussions on healing and illness, see also Questions #57, #128 and #142.


Q #230: During the several times that I have worked with the workbook of A Course in Miracles, I find I have left things undone that belong to earlier lessons, e.g., meaning and meaninglessness. The instructions clearly say that only one lesson per day is to be worked. My intuition tells me to go back to the beginning, in order not to confuse the sequence of the workbook. I wonder if others have asked this question before, but have not been answered yet?

A: It is not necessary to begin the workbook again. You can always go back and do a lesson again or concentrate on a specific concept that you skipped over; but that does not mean that you should start all over again. Jesus does not expect us to do a lesson perfectly before we move on to the next one. He is far more aware of our resistance and fear than we are, so he knows we will misinterpret what he says, not do everything he asks, and when we do it, we will do it imperfectly. He is interested only in our willingness and humility as we practice the lessons. The middle of Lesson 95, in particular, discusses the attitude we should have when we run into problems in our work with the lessons. You might also wish to look at Questions #64 and #92, which pertain to the workbook.

sunburst eternity

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 7

ACIM Text Reading for June 7

Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant

IX. The Holy Instant and the Attraction of God

As the ego would limit your perception of your brothers to the body, so would the Holy Spirit release your vision and let you see the Great Rays shining from them, so unlimited that they reach to God. It is this shift to vision that is accomplished in the holy instant. Yet it is needful for you to learn just what this shift entails, so you will become willing to make it permanent. Given this willingness it will not leave you, for it is permanent. Once you have accepted it as the only perception you want, it is translated into knowledge by the part that God Himself plays in the Atonement, for it is the only step in it He understands. Therefore, in this there will be no delay when you are ready for it. God is ready now, but you are not.

Our task is but to continue, as fast as possible, the necessary process of looking straight at all the interference and seeing it exactly as it is. For it is impossible to recognise as wholly without gratification what you think you want. The body is the symbol of the ego, as the ego is the symbol of the separation. And both are nothing more than attempts to limit communication, and thereby to make it impossible. For communication must be unlimited in order to have meaning, and deprived of meaning, it will not satisfy you completely. Yet it remains the only means by which you can establish real relationships, which have no limits, having been established by God.

In the holy instant, where the Great Rays replace the body in awareness, the recognition of relationships without limits is given you. But in order to see this, it is necessary to give up every use the ego has for the body, and to accept the fact that the ego has no purpose you would share with it. For the ego would limit everyone to a body for its own purposes, and while you think it has a purpose, you will choose to utilise the means by which it tries to turn its purpose into accomplishment. This will never be accomplished. Yet you have surely recognised that the ego, whose goals are altogether unattainable, will strive for them with all its might, and will do so with the strength that you have given it.

It is impossible to divide your strength between Heaven and hell, God and the ego, and release your power to creation, which is the only purpose for which it was given you. Love would always give increase. Limits are demanded by the ego, and represent its demands to make little and ineffectual. Limit your sight of a brother to his body, which you will do as long as you would not release him from it, and you have denied his gift to you. His body cannot give it. And seek it not through yours. Yet your minds are already continuous, and their union need only be accepted and the loneliness in Heaven is gone.

If you would but let the Holy Spirit tell you of the Love of God for you, and the need your creations have to be with you forever, you would experience the attraction of the eternal. No one can hear Him speak of this and long remain willing to linger here. For it is your will to be in Heaven, where you are complete and quiet, in such sure and loving relationships that any limit is impossible. Would you not exchange your little relationships for this? For the body is little and limited, and only those whom you would see without the limits the ego would impose on them can offer you the gift of freedom.

You have no conception of the limits you have placed on your perception, and no idea of all the loveliness that you could see. But this you must remember; the attraction of guilt opposes the attraction of God. His attraction for you remains unlimited, but because your power, being His, is as great as His, you can turn away from love. What you invest in guilt you withdraw from God. And your sight grows weak and dim and limited, for you have attempted to separate the Father from the Son, and limit their communication. Seek not Atonement in further separation. And limit not your vision of God’s Son to what interferes with his release, and what the Holy Spirit must undo to set him free. For his belief in limits has imprisoned him.

When the body ceases to attract you, and when you place no value on it as a means of getting anything, then there will be no interference in communication and your thoughts will be as free as God’s. As you let the Holy Spirit teach you how to use the body only for purposes of communication, and renounce its use for separation and attack which the ego sees in it, you will learn you have no need of a body at all. In the holy instant there are no bodies, and you experience only the attraction of God. Accepting it as undivided you join Him wholly, in an instant, for you would place no limits on your union with Him. The reality of this relationship becomes the only truth that you could ever want. All truth is here.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 7

Lesson 140

Only salvation can be said to cure.

“Cure” is a word that cannot be applied to any remedy the world accepts as beneficial. What the world perceives as therapeutic is but what will make the body “better.” When it tries to heal the mind, it sees no separation from the body, where it thinks the mind exists. Its forms of healing thus must substitute illusion for illusion. One belief in sickness takes another form, and so the patient now perceives himself as well.

He is not healed. He merely had a dream that he was sick, and in the dream he found a magic formula to make him well. Yet he has not awakened from the dream, and so his mind remains exactly as it was before. He has not seen the light that would awaken him and end the dream. What difference does the content of a dream make in reality? One either sleeps or wakens. There is nothing in between.

The happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings are different from the dreaming of the world, where one can merely dream he is awake. The dreams forgiveness lets the mind perceive do not induce another form of sleep, so that the dreamer dreams another dream. His happy dreams are heralds of the dawn of truth upon the mind. They lead from sleep to gentle waking, so that dreams are gone. And thus they cure for all eternity.

Atonement heals with certainty, and cures all sickness. For the mind which understands that sickness can be nothing but a dream is not deceived by forms the dream may take. Sickness where guilt is absent cannot come, for it is but another form of guilt. Atonement does not heal the sick, for that is not a cure. It takes away the guilt that makes the sickness possible. And that is cure indeed. For sickness now is gone, with nothing left to which it can return.

Peace be to you who have been cured in God, and not in idle dreams. For cure must come from holiness, and holiness can not be found where sin is cherished. God abides in holy temples. He is barred where sin has entered. Yet there is no place where He is not. And therefore sin can have no home in which to hide from His beneficence. There is no place where holiness is not, and nowhere sin and sickness can abide.

This is the thought that cures. It does not make distinctions among unrealities. Nor does it seek to heal what is not sick, unmindful where the need for healing is. This is no magic. It is merely an appeal to truth, which cannot fail to heal and heal forever. It is not a thought that judges an illusion by its size, its seeming gravity, or anything that is related to the form it takes. It merely focuses on what it is, and knows that no illusion can be real.

Let us not try today to seek to cure what cannot suffer sickness. Healing must be sought but where it is, and then applied to what is sick, so that it can be cured. There is no remedy the world provides that can effect a change in anything. The mind that brings illusions to the truth is really changed. There is no change but this. For how can one illusion differ from another but in attributes that have no substance, no reality, no core, and nothing that is truly different?

Today we seek to change our minds about the source of sickness, for we seek a cure for all illusions, not another shift among them. We will try today to find the source of healing, which is in our minds because our Father placed it there for us. It is not farther from us than ourselves. It is as near to us as our own thoughts; so close it is impossible to lose. We need but seek it and it must be found.

We will not be misled today by what appears to us as sick. We go beyond appearances today and reach the source of healing, from which nothing is exempt. We will succeed to the extent to which we realize that there can never be a meaningful distinction made between what is untrue and equally untrue. Here there are no degrees, and no beliefs that what does not exist is truer in some forms than others. All of them are false, and can be cured because they are not true.

So do we lay aside our amulets, our charms and medicines, our chants and bits of magic in whatever form they take. We will be still and listen for the Voice of healing, which will cure all ills as one, restoring saneness to the Son of God. No voice but this can cure. Today we hear a single Voice which speaks to us of truth, where all illusions end, and peace returns to the eternal, quiet home of God.

We waken hearing Him, and let Him speak to us five minutes as the day begins, and end the day by listening again five minutes more before we go to sleep. Our only preparation is to let our interfering thoughts be laid aside, not separately, but all of them as one. They are the same. We have no need to make them different, and thus delay the time when we can hear our Father speak to us. We hear Him now. We come to Him today.

With nothing in our hands to which we cling, with lifted hearts and listening minds we pray:

Only salvation can be said to cure.
Speak to us, Father, that we may be healed.

And we will feel salvation cover us with soft protection, and with peace so deep that no illusion can disturb our minds, nor offer proof to us that it is real. This will we learn today. And we will say our prayer for healing hourly, and take a minute as the hour strikes, to hear the answer to our prayer be given us as we attend in silence and in joy. This is the day when healing comes to us. This is the day when separation ends, and we remember Who we really are.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1132After reading the Course I have the impression that the ego is synonymous with satan. Is this so? How does Christ look at hell according to A Course in Miracles ? There seems to be little reference to it. Is it just the absence of salvation?

A: In traditional Christian teaching, Satan is believed to be an independent being whose guiles are capable of having an influence on others. The Course not only teaches that there is no Satan, or hell, but in reality there is no ego (see T.9.IV.5 ). Nothing exists outside the mind, and the belief that something or someone outside the mind can not only exist, but have an effect on it, is the hell of the mind’s making. You are correct that when the Course refers to hell or the devil it is referring to the mind’s choice to believe that separation is real. Jesus tells us in the text: “The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil'” (T.3.VII.5:1),    and since the ego is the belief in separation, we may say that that ego is the devil. It is very important to remember, however, that the separation never happened (W.p.I.137.4:3), and so neither the devil nor hell exist. They are projections of the guilt that arises from the choice to believe that separation from God is possible. They seem real because they support the mind’s belief that that thought of separation is real and sinful, and deserves punishment from a vengeful God. Thus, hell and the devil are important parts of the ego thought system. Fear keeps them alive and well. In the instant that the mind decides for separation, all memory of God is obliterated from awareness, making Him “absent” in one’s experience. That is the theological definition of hell: the absence of God or salvation.

In the Course, the Christ refers to God’s Son who remains one with Him in Heaven. Just as the Father in Heaven does not know of separation because He is perfect Oneness, neither does the Christ see hell. Where God and His Son are one there is nothing else. This changeless reality of Heaven is the heart of the non-dualistic teaching of A Course in Miracles . Christ is real and “…where He is God must be, for Christ is part of Him” (T.9.I.14:7) . If hell is the absence of God, where God is there is no hell.

Forgiveness is the process by which the mind reestablishes awareness of its power to choose between Heaven and hell; the ego and the Holy Spirit. There is no other power but this; nothing else to choose. Learning this is one of the most important goals of the Course. It reflects the mind’s choice for truth and ultimately undoes belief in the ego, hell, and the “devil.”


Q #1133: I sense a perceptible irony and paradox in the Course’s objective of eliminating our separateness from our brothers, called the Son of God, in that with increasing study and reading, there is a perceptible change within me. However, as I observe the world, especially through the news media, I note more differences between us and more separateness by not being able to identify with the world. That is, my study is changing me towards goals which are not being equally developed in the world and we are slowly drifting apart in our concepts of ourselves. Is this the mistaken use of judgment? Or is this just increased opportunity to forgive the apparently increasing insanity?

A: There is a section in the text — “The Greater Joining,” in Chapter 28 — that may help you with your confusion about what seems to be happening in your experience. The mistake in your thinking is believing that you should feel closer to the world and its inhabitants as a result of practicing the Course. This could be an outcome for a while as you still identify yourself with your body. But Jesus’ goal for us in his Course is to lead us to recognize that we are not the ego — neither the thought system of separation nor its manifestations, bodies and the world. Rather we are mind that is caught in an illusory dream of separation, believing we are the figures in that dream. And the miracle, or forgiveness, is a process whereby over time we gradually identify more and more with the mind that is dreaming and less and less with the figures within the dream. This process progresses as we learn simply to release all the judgments we have been holding on to about all the figures in the dream, including the figure we have believed to be our own separate, individual self. And so you could say that the goal of the Course is to have us learn to use separation for healing, by learning to separate ourselves as mind from the ego and all its expressions.

However, this is not simply a process of intellectual denial of the world and all its insanity and suffering, for that would not be at all healing. And so we would want to ask ourselves if we are feeling some identification with and compassion towards other minds that are caught in the same painful web of ego illusion that we have been, recognizing that we all share the same underlying problem. And whenever we find ourselves in reaction to what seems to be happening with any of the figures in the dream, we have re-identified ourselves with the ego illusion and have once again made sin and guilt and pain real in our own mind, as everyone else is doing. And the solution is simply to recognize the choice we have made for the ego, not judge ourselves for making that choice, and then remember that another choice is always available, when we want it.

Although you may find it helpful to read the entire section, we’ll look at some excerpts from “The Greater Joining” that provide much of the foundation for what we have just described:

      “Accepting the Atonement for yourself means not to give support to someone’s dream of sickness and of death…. Unless you help him, you will suffer pain with him because that is your wish. And you become a figure in his dream of pain, as he in yours. So do you and your brother both become illusions, and without identity…. Refuse to be a part of fearful dreams whatever form they take, for you will lose identity in them. You find yourself by not accepting them as causing you, and giving you effects. You stand apart from them, but not apart from him who dreams them .Thus you separate the dreamer from the dream, and join in one, but let the other go. The dream is but illusion in the mind. And with the mind you would unite, but never with the dream. …. Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream. Share not in his illusion of himself, for your Identity depends on his reality. Think, rather, of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, ‘hero’ of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him . Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood…. Identity in dreams is meaningless because the dreamer and the dream are one. Who shares a dream must be the dream he shares, because by sharing is a cause produced…. You share confusion and you are confused, for in the gap no stable self exists. What is the same seems different, because what is the same appears to be unlike. His dreams are yours because you let them be. But if you took your own away would he be free of them, and of his own as well. Your dreams are witnesses to his, and his attest the truth of yours. Yet if you see there is no truth in yours, his dreams will go, and he will understand what made the dream. (T.28.IV.1:1,6,7,8; 2:2,3,4,5,6,7; 3:1,2,3,4,5,6; 5:4,5; 6:1,2,3,4,5,6, italics added ).

Peace of God

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 6

ACIM Text Reading for June 6

Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant

VIII. The Only Real Relationship

The holy instant does not replace the need for learning, for the Holy Spirit must not leave you as your Teacher until the holy instant has extended far beyond time. For a teaching assignment such as His, He must use everything in this world for your release. He must side with every sign or token of your willingness to learn of Him what the truth must be. He is swift to utilise whatever you offer Him on behalf of this. His concern and care for you are limitless. In the face of your fear of forgiveness, which He perceives as clearly as He knows forgiveness is release, He will teach you to remember that forgiveness is not loss, but your salvation. And that in complete forgiveness, in which you recognise that there is nothing to forgive, you are absolved completely.

Hear him gladly, and learn of Him that you have need of no special relationships at all. You but seek in them what you have thrown away. And through them you will never learn the value of what you have cast aside, but still desire with all your heart. Let us join together in making the holy instant all that there is, by desiring that it be all that there is. God’s Son has such great need of your willingness to strive for this that you cannot conceive of need so great. Behold the only need that God and His Son share, and will to meet together. You are not alone in this. The will of your creations calls to you, to share your will with them. Turn, then, in peace from guilt to God and them.

Relate only with what will never leave you, and what you can never leave. The loneliness of God’s Son is the loneliness of his Father. Refuse not the awareness of your completion, and seek not to restore it to yourself. Fear not to give redemption over to your Redeemer’s Love. He will not fail you, for He comes from One Who cannot fail. Accept your sense of failure as nothing more than a mistake in who you are. For the holy host of God is beyond failure, and nothing that he wills can be denied. You are forever in a relationship so holy that it calls to everyone to escape from loneliness, and join you in your love. And where you are must everyone seek, and find you there.

Think but an instant on this: God gave the Sonship to you, to ensure your perfect creation. This was His gift, for as He withheld Himself not from you, He withheld not His creation. Nothing that ever was created but is yours. Your relationships are with the universe. And this universe, being of God, is far beyond the petty sum of all the separate bodies you perceive. For all its parts are joined in God through Christ, where they become like to their Father. Christ knows of no separation from His Father, Who is His one relationship, in which He gives as His Father gives to Him.

The Holy Spirit is God’s attempt to free you of what He does not understand. And because of the Source of the attempt, it will succeed. The Holy Spirit asks you to respond as God does, for He would teach you what you do not understand. God would respond to every need, whatever form it takes. And so He keeps this channel open to receive His communication to you, and yours to Him. God does not understand your problem in communication, for He does not share it with you. It is only you who believe that it is understandable. The Holy Spirit knows that it is not understandable, and yet He understands it because you made it.

In the Holy Spirit alone lies the awareness of what God cannot know, and what you do not understand. It is His holy function to accept them both, and by removing every element of disagreement, to join them into one. He will do this because it is His function. Leave, then, what seems to you to be impossible, to Him Who knows it must be possible because it is the Will of God. And let Him Whose teaching is only of God teach you the only meaning of relationships. For God created the only relationship that has meaning, and that is His relationship with you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 6

Lesson 139

I will accept Atonement for myself.

Here is the end of choice. For here we come to a decision to accept ourselves as God created us. And what is choice except uncertainty of what we are? There is no doubt that is not rooted here. There is no question but reflects this one. There is no conflict that does not entail the single, simple question, “What am I?”

Yet who could ask this question except one who has refused to recognize himself? Only refusal to accept yourself could make the question seem to be sincere. The only thing that can be surely known by any living thing is what it is. From this one point of certainty, it looks on other things as certain as itself.

Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast, its magnitude can hardly be conceived. To be alive and not to know yourself is to believe that you are really dead. For what is life except to be yourself, and what but you can be alive instead? Who is the doubter? What is it he doubts? Whom does he question? Who can answer him?

He merely states that he is not himself, and therefore, being something else, becomes a questioner of what that something is. Yet he could never be alive at all unless he knew the answer. If he asks as if he does not know, it merely shows he does not want to be the thing he is. He has accepted it because he lives; has judged against it and denied its worth, and has decided that he does not know the only certainty by which he lives.

Thus he becomes uncertain of his life, for what it is has been denied by him. It is for this denial that you need Atonement. Your denial made no change in what you are. But you have split your mind into what knows and does not know the truth. You are yourself. There is no doubt of this. And yet you doubt it. But you do not ask what part of you can really doubt yourself. It cannot really be a part of you that asks this question. For it asks of one who knows the answer. Were it part of you, then certainty would be impossible.

Atonement remedies the strange idea that it is possible to doubt yourself, and be unsure of what you really are. This is the depth of madness. Yet it is the universal question of the world. What does this mean except the world is mad? Why share its madness in the sad belief that what is universal here is true?

Nothing the world believes is true. It is a place whose purpose is to be a home where those who claim they do not know themselves can come to question what it is they are. And they will come again until the time Atonement is accepted, and they learn it is impossible to doubt yourself, and not to be aware of what you are.

Only acceptance can be asked of you, for what you are is certain. It is set forever in the holy Mind of God, and in your own. It is so far beyond all doubt and question that to ask what it must be is all the proof you need to show that you believe the contradiction that you know not what you cannot fail to know. Is this a question, or a statement which denies itself in statement? Let us not allow our holy minds to occupy themselves with senseless musings such as this.

We have a mission here. We did not come to reinforce the madness that we once believed in. Let us not forget the goal that we accepted. It is more than just our happiness alone we came to gain. What we accept as what we are proclaims what everyone must be, along with us. Fail not your brothers, or you fail yourself. Look lovingly on them, that they may know that they are part of you, and you of them.

This does Atonement teach, and demonstrates the Oneness of God’s Son is unassailed by his belief he knows not what he is. Today accept Atonement, not to change reality, but merely to accept the truth about yourself, and go your way rejoicing in the endless Love of God. It is but this that we are asked to do. It is but this that we will do today.

Five minutes in the morning and at night we will devote to dedicate our minds to our assignment for today. We start with this review of what our mission is:

I will accept Atonement for myself,
For I remain as God created me.

We have not lost the knowledge that God gave to us when He created us like Him. We can remember it for everyone, for in creation are all minds as one. And in our memory is the recall how dear our brothers are to us in truth, how much a part of us is every mind, how faithful they have really been to us, and how our Father’s Love contains them all.

In thanks for all creation, in the Name of its Creator and His Oneness with all aspects of creation, we repeat our dedication to our cause today each hour, as we lay aside all thoughts that would distract us from our holy aim. For several minutes let your mind be cleared of all the foolish cobwebs which the world would weave around the holy Son of God. And learn the fragile nature of the chains that seem to keep the knowledge of yourself apart from your awareness, as you say:

I will accept Atonement for myself,
For I remain as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

The following two questions, although different in form, share a common underlying theme and so will be answered together:

Q #69-a: I have been working on forgiving one particular person for quite a while now and I am finally getting there, very very close to total forgiveness, which should bring me peace. But now I find that I am missing seeing him and talking to him, which is very unpeaceful. This person is not deceased so there is a chance for physical interaction, although highly unlikely because we are both remarried. I want to be able to act differently with him and show him my unconditional love instead of my fear, which ruined our relationship in the first place. What’s going on here? Is my ego still in charge even though I have forgiven him and am finally joyful and not resentful about our relationship? Is missing someone another confirmation of believing in separation? I can’t believe I don’t have the full peace I was expecting. My missing him has thrown a monkey wrench into this otherwise loving experience, which I guess I don’t want to experience alone. I have joined with this brother in my mind and would like to play it out in form. Is this wrong, and if so how can I finally get some peace about it?

Q #69-b: Forgiveness is such an important process in the Course, and it can be applied to just about everything in our daily lives. But what happens when someone is murdered and everything abruptly stops for that person. How can that mind process what has happened when it no longer exists as the person who was just murdered. I hope this isn’t a stupid question and has some relevancy to the Course.

A: Forgiveness, central to the Course’s teachings, is a very difficult concept for us to grasp while we continue to identify with our ego and with the individual self that we believe we are. Jesus cautions us that “the world cannot perceive its [forgiveness] meaning, nor provide a guide to teach you its beneficence. There is no thought in all the world that leads to any understanding of the laws it follows, nor the Thought that it reflects. It is as alien to the world as is your own reality” (W.pI.134:13,1,2,3).

And so it takes great humility to approach the study of the Course, acknowledging that we really do not understand. But in that acknowledgment lies the possibility of real learning. Forgiveness as the Course defines it really has nothing to do with the other person against whom we believe we hold a grievance. But it also has nothing to do with the person we believe we are who seems to be holding the grievance.

This is not to deny that we will experience apparent effects of true forgiveness in our external relationships, but that is not really what is happening. To understand what the Course means by forgiveness, we need first to understand the ego’s purpose for the world and our relationships. And that purpose is always to see the guilt that is really in our own mind — the original guilt over the thought of separation from God — outside ourselves in someone else. The specifics of my grievance against you are not really important. What is important is that I can blame you for my own unhappiness. Forgiveness then is the process that allows me first to recognize that, yes, I am unhappy, I am not at peace, and you, against whom I have been holding a grievance, have helped me see that. But you are not really the source of my loss of peace and happiness. I am. And so when I withdraw my projection of guilt and blame from you, I can then take the next step with the Holy Spirit and recognize that my own guilt is not real. And peace flows from that recognition. So forgiveness allows me to release myself from the mistaken judgments I first held against myself and then accused you of, because I did not want to accept responsibility for them. And the forgiveness I experience takes place in my mind and has nothing to do either with the self I think I am or with the self I think you are.

With this brief explanation in mind, let’s turn to the questions that have been raised. What we experience as forgiveness in our relationships with others can certainly reflect the real underlying process that is happening in our mind. As long as we are still identified with our egos, we will interpret the experience of release in our mind in the context of the specific form of our relationship with another person. This is unavoidable while we cling to our false identity as a body. It is a mistake, but it is certainly not a sin.

So, if my experience is that I am releasing you from the judgments I have been holding against you, and I am experiencing peace, it can only be a reflection of the fact that I am releasing myself from the guilt and judgments against myself in my own mind. This would have to be fear-inducing to my ego, which survives and thrives on guilt. And so a defense against the love and peace is now needed.

For the ego, switching the form of the relationship from special hate to special love is an ideal solution. The form changes, but the underlying content remains hatred and guilt, although now disguised and hidden. And so, rather than seeing you as the direct cause of my unhappiness, I now see you as somehow necessary for my happiness — that I need to be with you to share the experience of peace and joy. But that in effect is the same thing, because if you are not available to me as I would like you to be, then once again you are contributing to my unhappiness. Either way, I am not at peace and my ego has won. The answer at this point would not be to try to change any of this, but simply to recognize what is happening. And then to ask myself, with Jesus or the Holy Spirit as my teacher, is this really what I would have rather than the peace I was experiencing when I was able to release both of us from the chains of guilt and condemnation? If I have uncovered my ego’s purpose, it is only a matter of time before I will be willing to make a different choice.

But what of the situation where the life of a victim has seemingly been ended by someone else’s attack? To repeat what we said earlier, forgiveness, as well as holding grievances, really has nothing to do with the self that I think I am or the self that I think you are. Grievances are held in the mind and the body is not at all necessary for the mind to forgive. The mind has the same choice available to it, whether the body seems to remain alive or not. The projection of guilt onto someone else’s body can either continue or the guilt can be withdrawn back to the mind that is its source, where the choice to release the guilt remains the same.

Any seeming difference in the process arises only if the choice is to continue to project the guilt, but this difference is on the level of form, not content. The mind then simply finds another lifetime with a different body to identify with — a choice not really that different from what we do within a lifetime when we decide to leave one relationship and move onto another. The cycle of victim-victimizer repeats itself, until the mind is ready to make a different choice and accept complete responsibility for its pain and loss of peace. Murder is always first a thought in the mind, a self-accusation for what we believe we have done to God. We project it outside ourselves onto someone else in order to avoid the consequences we have told ourselves must follow from that choice. But the murder and the subsequent guilt, as well as the world we make as the repository for the guilt we want to escape, are all equally illusory. From this premise, forgiveness follows.

the way to god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 5

ACIM Text Reading for June 5

Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant

VII. The Needless Sacrifice

Beyond the poor attraction of the special love relationship, and always obscured by it, is the powerful attraction of the Father for His Son. There is no other love that can satisfy you, because there is no other love. This is the only love that is fully given and fully returned. Being complete, it asks nothing. Being wholly pure, everyone joined in it has everything. This is not the basis for any relationship in which the ego enters. For every relationship on which the ego embarks is special.

The ego establishes relationships only to get something. And it would keep the giver bound to itself through guilt. It is impossible for the ego to enter into any relationship without anger, for the ego believes that anger makes friends. This is not its statement, but it is its purpose. For the ego really believes that it can get and keep by making guilty. This is its one attraction; an attraction so weak that it would have no hold at all, except that no one recognises it. For the ego always seems to attract through love, and has no attraction at all to anyone who perceives that it attracts through guilt.

The sick attraction of guilt must be recognised for what it is. For having been made real to you, it is essential to look at it clearly, and by withdrawing your investment in it, to learn to let it go. No one would choose to let go what he believes has value. Yet the attraction of guilt has value to you only because you have not looked at what it is, and have judged it completely in the dark. As we bring it to light, your only question will be why it was you ever wanted it. You have nothing to lose by looking open-eyed, for ugliness such as this belongs not in your holy mind. This host of God can have no real investment here.

We said before that the ego attempts to maintain and increase guilt, but in such a way that you do not recognise what it would do to you. For it is the ego’s fundamental doctrine that what you do to others you have escaped. The ego wishes no one well. Yet its survival depends on your belief that you are exempt from its evil intentions. It counsels, therefore, that if you are host to it, it will enable you to direct its anger outward, thus protecting you. And thus it embarks on an endless, unrewarding chain of special relationships, forged out of anger and dedicated to but one insane belief; that the more anger you invest outside yourself, the safer you become.

It is this chain that binds the Son of God to guilt, and it is this chain the Holy Spirit would remove from his holy mind. For the chain of savagery belongs not around the chosen host of God, who cannot make himself host to the ego. In the name of his release, and in the Name of Him Who would release him, let us look more closely at the relationships the ego contrives, and let the Holy Spirit judge them truly. For it is certain that if you will look at them, you will offer them gladly to Him. What He can make of them you do not know, but you will become willing to find out, if you are willing first to perceive what you have made of them.

In one way or another, every relationship the ego makes is based on the idea that by sacrificing itself, it becomes bigger. The ‘sacrifice’, which it regards as purification, is actually the root of its bitter resentment. For it would prefer to attack directly, and avoid delaying what it really wants. Yet the ego acknowledges ‘reality’ as it sees it, and recognises that no one could interpret direct attack as love. Yet to make guilty is direct attack, although it does not seem to be, For the guilty expect attack, and having asked for it they are attracted to it.

In such insane relationships, the attraction of what you do not want seems to be much stronger than the attraction of what you do want. For each one thinks that he has sacrificed something to the other, and hates him for it. Yet this is what he thinks he wants. He is not in love with the other at all. He merely believes he is in love with sacrifice. And for this sacrifice, which he demands of himself, he demands that the other accept the guilt and sacrifice himself as well. Forgiveness becomes impossible, for the ego believes that to forgive another is to lose him. It is only by attack without forgiveness that the ego can ensure the guilt that holds all its relationships together.

Yet they only seem to be together. For relationships, to the ego, mean only that bodies are together. It is always this that the ego demands, and it does not object where the mind goes or what it thinks, for this seems unimportant. As long as the body is there to receive its sacrifice, it is content. To the ego the mind is private, and only the body can be shared. Ideas are basically of no concern, except as they bring the body of another closer or farther. And it is in these terms that it evaluates ideas as good or bad. What makes another guilty and holds him through guilt is ‘good’. What releases him from guilt is ‘bad’, because he would no longer believe that bodies communicate, and so he would be ‘gone’.

Suffering and sacrifice are the gifts with which the ego would ‘bless’ all unions. And those who are united at its altar accept suffering and sacrifice as the price of union. In their angry alliances, born of the fear of loneliness and yet dedicated to the continuance of loneliness, each seeks relief from guilt by increasing it in the other. For each believes that this decreases guilt in him. The other seems always to be attacking and wounding him, perhaps in little ways, perhaps ‘unconsciously’, yet never without demand of sacrifice. The fury of those joined at the ego’s altar far exceeds your awareness of it. For what the ego really wants you do not realise.

Whenever you are angry, you can be sure that you have formed a special relationship which the ego has ‘blessed’, for anger is its blessing. Anger takes many forms, but it cannot long deceive those who will learn that love brings no guilt at all, and what brings guilt cannot be love and must be anger. All anger is nothing more than an attempt to make someone feel guilty, and this attempt is the only basis the ego accepts for special relationships. Guilt is the only need the ego has, and as long as you identify with it, guilt will remain attractive to you. Yet remember this; to be with a body is not communication. And if you think it is, you will feel guilty about communication and will be afraid to hear the Holy Spirit, recognising in His Voice your own need to communicate.

The Holy Spirit cannot teach through fear. And how can He communicate with you, while you believe that to communicate is to make yourself alone? It is clearly insane to believe that by communicating you will be abandoned. And yet many do believe it. For they think their minds must be kept private or they will lose them, but if their bodies are together their minds remain their own. The union of bodies thus becomes the way in which they would keep minds apart. For bodies cannot forgive. They can only do as the mind directs.

The illusion of the autonomy of the body and its ability to overcome loneliness is but the working of the ego’s plan to establish its own autonomy. As long as you believe that to be with a body is companionship, you will be compelled to attempt to keep your brother in his body, held there by guilt. And you will see safety in guilt and danger in communication. For the ego will always teach that loneliness is solved by guilt, and that communication is the cause of loneliness. And despite the evident insanity of this lesson, many have learned it.

Forgiveness lies in communication as surely as damnation lies in guilt. It is the Holy Spirit’s teaching function to instruct those who believe communication to be damnation that communication is salvation. And He will do so, for the power of God in Him and you is joined in a real relationship so holy and so strong, that it can overcome even this without fear.

It is through the holy instant that what seems impossible is accomplished, making it evident that it is not impossible. In the holy instant guilt holds no attraction, since communication has been restored. And guilt, whose only purpose is to disrupt communication, has no function here. Here there is no concealment, and no private thoughts. The willingness to communicate attracts communication to it, and overcomes loneliness completely. There is complete forgiveness here, for there is no desire to exclude anyone from your completion, in sudden recognition of the value of his part in it. In the protection of you wholeness, all are invited and made welcome. And you understand that your completion is God’s, Whose only need is to have you be complete. For your completion makes you His in your awareness. And here it is that you experience yourself as you were created, and as you are.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 5

Lesson 138

Heaven is the decision I must make.

In this world Heaven is a choice, because here we believe there are alternatives to choose between. We think that all things have an opposite, and what we want we choose. If Heaven exists there must be hell as well, for contradiction is the way we make what we perceive, and what we think is real.

Creation knows no opposite. But here is opposition part of being “real.” It is this strange perception of the truth that makes the choice of Heaven seem to be the same as the relinquishment of hell. It is not really thus. Yet what is true in God’s creation cannot enter here until it is reflected in some form the world can understand. Truth cannot come where it could only be perceived with fear. For this would be the error truth can be brought to illusions. Opposition makes the truth unwelcome, and it cannot come.

Choice is the obvious escape from what appears as opposites. Decision lets one of conflicting goals become the aim of effort and expenditure of time. Without decision, time is but a waste and effort dissipated. It is spent for nothing in return, and time goes by without results. There is no sense of gain, for nothing is accomplished; nothing learned.

You need to be reminded that you think a thousand choices are confronting you, when there is really only one to make. And even this but seems to be a choice. Do not confuse yourself with all the doubts that myriad decisions would induce. You make but one. And when that one is made, you will perceive it was no choice at all. For truth is true, and nothing else is true. There is no opposite to choose instead. There is no contradiction to the truth.

Choosing depends on learning. And the truth cannot be learned, but only recognized. In recognition its acceptance lies, and as it is accepted it is known. But knowledge is beyond the goals we seek to teach within the framework of this course. Ours are teaching goals, to be attained through learning how to reach them, what they are, and what they offer you. Decisions are the outcome of your learning, for they rest on what you have accepted as the truth of what you are, and what your needs must be.

In this insanely complicated world, Heaven appears to take the form of choice, rather than merely being what it is. Of all the choices you have tried to make this is the simplest, most definitive and prototype of all the rest, the one which settles all decisions. If you could decide the rest, this one remains unsolved. But when you solve this one, the others are resolved with it, for all decisions but conceal this one by taking different forms. Here is the final and the only choice in which is truth accepted or denied.

So we begin today considering the choice that time was made to help us make. Such is its holy purpose, now transformed from the intent you gave it; that it be a means for demonstrating hell is real, hope changes to despair, and life itself must in the end be overcome by death. In death alone are opposites resolved, for ending opposition is to die. And thus salvation must be seen as death, for life is seen as conflict. To resolve the conflict is to end your life as well.

These mad beliefs can gain unconscious hold of great intensity, and grip the mind with terror and anxiety so strong that it will not relinquish its ideas about its own protection. It must be saved from salvation, threatened to be safe, and magically armored against truth. And these decisions are made unaware, to keep them safely undisturbed; apart from question and from reason and from doubt.

Heaven is chosen consciously. The choice cannot be made until alternatives are accurately seen and understood. All that is veiled in shadows must be raised to understanding, to be judged again, this time with Heaven’s help. And all mistakes in judgment that the mind had made before are open to correction, as the truth dismisses them as causeless. Now are they without effects. They cannot be concealed, because their nothingness is recognized.

The conscious choice of Heaven is as sure as is the ending of the fear of hell, when it is raised from its protective shield of unawareness, and is brought to light. Who can decide between the clearly seen and the unrecognized? Yet who can fail to make a choice between alternatives when only one is seen as valuable; the other as a wholly worthless thing, a but imagined source of guilt and pain? Who hesitates to make a choice like this? And shall we hesitate to choose today?

We make the choice for Heaven as we wake, and spend five minutes making sure that we have made the one decision that is sane. We recognize we make a conscious choice between what has existence and what has nothing but an appearance of the truth. Its pseudo-being, brought to what is real, is flimsy and transparent in the light. It holds no terror now, for what was made enormous, vengeful, pitiless with hate, demands obscurity for fear to be invested there. Now it is recognized as but a foolish, trivial mistake.

Before we close our eyes in sleep tonight, we reaffirm the choice that we have made each hour in between. And now we give the last five minutes of our waking day to the decision with which we awoke. As every hour passed, we have declared our choice again, in a brief quiet time devoted to maintaining sanity. And finally, we close the day with this, acknowledging we chose but what we want:

Heaven is the decision I must make.
I make it now, and will not change my mind,
because it is the only thing I want.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #68: What happens to the mind after the demise of the body? Does the mind go home and re-join, although it never left? What happens to the ego? Where can I find this answer in the Text?

A: The answer to your questions lies in understanding the Course’s teaching on life and death, contrasted with the ego’s version. It is very important to remember that the Course refers to death as the choice in the mind to believe the ego’s definition of who we are: sinful, fearful, guilty, separated individuals imprisoned in bodies. This belief is the ego’s way of dealing a death blow to our awareness of who we really are as God’s innocent Son, and this is what the Course calls “death.” When the Course speaks of “life” it is always referring to our life in Heaven with God. “There is no life outside of Heaven” (T.23.II.19:1).

With that in mind there are several passages in the Course that address death, the mind, the body and the ego that are helpful in understanding the points you bring up. 1)The Course tells us the mind is not in the body: “It (mind) cannot make a body, nor abide within a body” (W.pI.167.6:3)“A mind and body cannot both exist. Make no attempt to reconcile the two, for one denies the other can be real. If you are physical, your mind is gone from your self- concept, for it has no place in which it could be really part of you. If you are spirit, then the body must be meaningless to your reality” (W.p.I.96.3:4,5,6,7).

Therefore there cannot be any change to the condition of the mind due to the demise of the body, nothing happens to it and it does not go anywhere. This is difficult for us to understand because most of us identify with our bodies, but it is essential to understanding the Course’s teaching. You are correct in saying that in truth the mind never left its home in Heaven, where it abides in Oneness. Our illusory experience in this dream is the result of a thought in the sleeping mind of the Son, who believes the separation actually occurred. The mind does not return home when the body dies. The mind returns home when it makes a final choice to accept the Atonement and no longer identify with the ego thought system. It thus awakens to the truth that it never left Heaven, never separated from its Source.

The ego is also not in the body; it is the thought of separation in the mind which does not change with the death of the body: “The ego is the part of the mind that believes in division” (T.5.V.3:1). The ego is not in the body but does identify with the body. We too identify with the body when we choose the ego thought system, which is why we accept the body’s experience of death and believe in its significance. With the ego we see it as “…the central dream from which all illusions stem…It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as ‘the way of nature,’ not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the ‘natural’ law of life” (M.27.1:1,4,5). Although the ego does not die with the demise of the body, because it is a thought in the mind, it is obsessed with death; fearing it, seeking it, using it to prove its reality and the reality of the body. It may be helpful to review “The Attraction of Death” (T.19.IV.C). Our experience in learning a new identity by questioning our beliefs of who we think we are, freeing ourselves to accept the Holy Spirit’s message of who we really are, will enable us to see the death of the body differently and open our minds to a new perception and experience of the life the Course speaks of: “When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing. Everything is accomplished through life, and life is of the mind and in the mind. The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life” (T.6.V.A.1:1, 2, 3,4).

Know Yourself